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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee talks tough on journalist attacks

Trinamool Congress aides allegedly beat them up for covering party feud

Gulf News

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered strict action against those responsible for the attack on three television journalists on Friday.

Speaking to reporters, Banerjee said: “This is a very unfortunate incident. I have asked the police to take strict action against those who are responsible for the incident. Police will not listen to anyone’s plea or recommendation.”

Of the three journalists who were allegedly attacked by Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters, Barun Sengupta of 24 Ghanta (24 hours) and Astik Chatterjee of ABP Ananda are in a critical state. They are undergoing tests to determine the extent of their injuries. Tona Singha Roy of Kolkata TV was also injured in the melee.

In the first investigation report (FIR), the journalists have claimed that the goons involved in the attack wanted to burn them alive and poured petrol over them. They were also armed with knives, rods and guns.

“The goons left upon seeing a Rapid Action Force vehicle which was passing by. Had it not come at that time, they would have murdered the two of them,” said another video journalist who was also present at the scene. “We have covered many such violent incidents; generally people snatch our cameras or object to filming. But nowhere have we seen journalists being beaten up like this,” he added.

Attacks not uncommon

Attacks on journalists covering political events are not new in West Bengal. Many such incidents were reported during the Nandigram and Singur agitation, but nowhere have journalists been on the verge of being burnt alive.

In recent months, TMC workers have been accused of committing several hostile acts. In April, flag-bearing supporters of the party’s students’ wing allegedly entered Presidency College and University in the city, vandalised parts of the institution and attacked several students and a teacher.

A TMC councillor, Mohmmad Iqbal, was arrested on charges of murdering a policeman during clashes in a college campus in Kolkata in February.

“Factionalism among some of our leaders is a major cause of concern for the party chief. The recent attacks are mostly on those lines, where individual leaders have done some shameful acts to prove their superiority. Banerjee’s statement is a clear message to those leaders that the government will not tolerate any kind of hooliganism and factionalism between its leaders, which turns out to be a major embarrassment,” said a member of TMC’s core committee.