Assam Govt Chief Secretary has limited scope to Censor Media – ULFA[I]

There have been many hues and cries following a statement made by one Chief Secretary recently in Tezpur. This statement allegedly called for putting Editors and journalists behind bars if they report any news or release about Insurgent groups. This was considered as an attack on the fourth pillar of democracy and the authorities were quick to dismiss this as a false alarm.

Talking to our Chief Editor over the phone one self-styled Major Arunodoy Asom of the ULFA[I]  remarked, “The Chief Secretary’s verbal order has reflected the anti-democratic character of the Govt.” He also said that this is not surprising that a Government or any Chief Secretary may try to impose such restrictions on media houses and publications within the North-Eastern states. The ULFA[I] leader pointed out that news about insurgent groups of the north-eastern region is published across the world and challenged the Government to take measures against media houses or editors outside of Assam if they could.

According to top official sources in the state police, this is being done to malign the image of Pallab Bhattacharyya (IPS), Special Director  General of Special Branch, Assam Police. Bhattacharyya, the Chief of the state’s intelligence wing ‘Special Branch’, didn’t follow the dictate of the arrest of the journalists, nor was he directed to take any action against them, leaving the incident in the hand of the state government. Bhattacharyya is known for his stand against fake arrest and encounters of innocents and believes in either arresting the insurgents or killing them in real gun battles, unlike his senior officers. He is also known as one of the police officers connected to the common public of Assam. Unfortunately, his stand is allegedly not going well with several nationalistic and right-wing organizations who call the shots with the Government.

It is to be noted that this is not the first time journalists or editors are being targeted for publishing news about insurgent groups and leaders. Right from the likes of late Parag Kumar Das and Ajit Bhuyan two decades back. Some days back in Manipur and Nagaland, newspapers have published blank editorials as a protest against Media Censorship naming it as Indian State machinery’s dominance.

Meanwhile, the Assam Police, following a special report by the Chief of the state’s intelligence wing ‘Special Branch’ Pallab Bhattacharyya (IPS), in a statement issued on Sunday have clarified that no decision about action against media houses for publication of statements of insurgent groups was taken in the meeting of the ‘Unified Command Structure’ at Tezpur.

AssamAssam policeMedia CensorshipPallab BhattacharyyaPallab Bhattacharyya (IPS)Special Branch AssamULFA[I]