GUWAHATI: Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh and Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb encountered strong criticism as they raised questions on ‘freedom of the press’ in the same line as the party’s national leaders on the issue of journalist Arnab Goswami’s arrest by Mumbai police.
As the duo took it to Twitter to express their solidarity with the journalist and criticized the Maharastra government for trying to gag media, netizens reminded the duo of their own acts of ‘oppression’ upon media in their respective states.
Following Arnab’s arrest, the Manipur chief minister tweeted: “Physically assaulted & arrested of @republic Editor-in-Chief #ArnabGoswami by Mumbai police is an attack on press freedom. I strongly condemn such politically motivated act of the #Maharashtra govt. #IndiaWithArnab.”
Immediately, the chief minister faced strong criticism. In reply to the CM’s tweet, a Twitter user Swapan Kumar Roy wrote: “ Wah see who is speaking, it doesn’t suit u, u arrested a journalist for 12 months for criticising u n ur govt, u charged defamation case against Ncb lady gallantry awarded officer Thounaojam Brinda for arresting drug mafia from ur party n now u r speaking on press freedom.”
Another user Kishan Mayengbam wrote: “Sir, with my biggest respect to a Chief Minister of Manipur, this is my request,” Don’t howl when the group howls, you are not a fox or a wolf. You are a human “. We have our own Manipuri journalist beaten and kept in jail by your order. What was that?”
In 2018, Manipur based journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem was arrested on sedition charges for posting a Facebook video critical of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Later he was also slapped with charges under the National Security Act.
Similarly, the Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb also met with the same fate. Deb on Wednesday had tweeted: “Blatant misuse of state power against Arnab Goswami is a direct attack on free speech and democracy. It gives us reminiscence of the Emergency by Congress and its allies. This must be condemned in the loudest voice.”
Sushanta Bhowmik, a Twitter user replied to Deb’s tweet: “The (some) journalists in Tripura have protested against whom in last month?”
In October, journalists from various parts of Tripura held a demonstration to protest against Deb’s alleged threat issued to them last month and “attacks” on scribes.
Deb, while laying the foundation stone for a special economic zone at Sabroom in South Tripura district on September 11 this year had said that some newspapers are trying to confuse the people of the state about its COVID-19 situation and he will “not forgive” them.
At least 25 journalists were attacked in Tripura since the BJP-IPFT government came to power in March 2018.