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25 May 2017

Journalist assault query angers CM

TT, Calcutta, May 24: Mamata Banerjee today accused journalists of CPM mouthpiece Ganashakti of "doing politics" when a reporter of an English news channel asked her if her government was contemplating action on the policemen who attacked media persons during the Left rally on Monday.
On her way to Delhi - where the chief minister is slated to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday - Mamata had stopped before entering the airport to take questions from the media. That is when the following exchange took place:
Journalist: "Didi, you have come back from Birbhum. There were many journalists beaten up...."
Mamata: "Wait, wait, please.... I am not going to give you the answer. Okay? That is...." (starts walking away)
Journalist: "Will any action be taken ma'am?" (Mamata turns around)
Mamata: "Tell your people to behave properly, then I will reply.... Tell Ganashakti reporters not to do politics."
Journalist: "But a lot of reporters, not just from Ganashakti...."
Mamata: "Let it be, let it be, let it be.... Ganashakti gangs up.... Let it be.... First stop this boy (the journalist who asked the question), then I will answer.... Don't take it for granted. I will not answer a single question because of his behaviour."
The chief minister then walked away.
Mamata's reaction came as a surprise to many, especially because it came a day after Calcutta police commissioner Rajeev Kumar condemned the assault by his force on journalists, and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee issued an apology in the Assembly.
Sources said the stand taken by Kumar and Chatterjee could not have been possible without the chief minister's nod.
"The Left has been trying to politicise the assault on journalists, which she does not approve of," a senior Trinamul leader said. "She was talking about what she would do in Delhi when this question was flung at her. It was possibly a spur-of-the-moment reaction."
Sources in Lalbazar said there had been little headway in probing the assault on the journalists thrice near the Mayo Road-Dufferin Road crossing. At least 25 journalists suffered injuries and 14 of them had to be hospitalised.
Indranil Bhaduri, a photojournalist of R-Plus news channel who was beaten up by at least four policemen while filming the police versus protester clash, is yet to be contacted by the police.
"No one from the police has called me yet," said Bhaduri.
Gopal Banik, a reporter with Onkar TV whose phone number additional commissioner (I) of police Vineet Goyal had taken after he was injured in the assault, echoed Bhaduri.
The sources said the police was waiting for the BJP's march to Lalbazar tomorrow to get over.
"Whatever can be done has to be done after tomorrow. The whole force is busy preparing for that," said a source.
Before the question on the assault, Mamata was telling journalists that if she got an appointment from the Prime Minister, she would discuss the problem of erosion along the Ganga and seek funds for tackling it.
"There are some areas where we are not getting funds. I will talk about them," she said.
"Whenever I go to Delhi, at least once or twice in a year, I meet him. That is the routine and that is the courtesy. That is why I have sought his time," she added.
Mamata's is also scheduled to attend a meeting helmed by Sonia to finalise the Opposition's candidate for the presidential polls.
"Their meeting (Mamata-Modi) will not hold us back. We will go all-out to show our strength tomorrow," said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.

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