Dainik Bhaskar raids a dangerous game of autocracy: Mamata
Mamata Banerjee on Thursday mounted a scathing offensive on the BJP over the income tax raids in Dainik Bhaskar offices, calling it an attack on free press before expressing her solidarity with the media organisation and the journalist fraternity at large.
The Bengal chief minister, who issued a stern statement on Twitter against the IT raids earlier in the day, broached the subject herself at a news conference in the afternoon.
“Today, what has been happening with Dainik Bhaskar since the morning, the way journalists and others in the media house are being bulldozed in the name of income tax raids, I totally condemn this…. Keep fighting, the whole nation is with you,” said Mamata.
Dainik Bhaskar is a Hindi daily newspaper, ranked among the top dailies in the world in terms of circulation.
“When the Parliament is in session and such a big scandal is unearthed, it is the duty of the Prime Minister, the Union home minister, to stand on the floor of the House and give a statement, to give information to the countrymen. Instead of doing so, they are now bulldozing the people who are raising their voice. Dainik Bhaskar, for instance…. A dangerous game of autocracy,” Mamata said.
The Trinamul Congress chief, who had rained fire on the BJP and its government at the Centre over the Pegasus controversy on Wednesday, accused the saffron camp on Thursday of being shameless.
“Two-three days ago, the Pegasus revelations… and today, they went to the Dainik Bhaskar offices. The reason? They (Dainik Bhaskar) had been reporting boldly, fearlessly… when the Uttar Pradesh government was throwing countless bodies (of Covid-19 victims) into the Ganga, they reported it first. They were also very critical of the Pegasus issue,” she said, urging everybody to join forces against such acts, to close the ranks against the BJP in good time.
The chief minister once again showed how she has taped up the cameras of her iPhone after the Pegasus-related revelations as no one was safe now.
Holding aloft her phone for all to see, she said: “This phone, the plaster… their mouths should be plastered, those doing it. This is my symbolic protest.”
“Of what use are these phones now? Will people get justice?” she asked, going on to reiterate how the conversations in a key strategy meeting of her party — comprising herself, poll consultant Prashant Kishor, and senior leaders Subrata Bakshi and Abhishek Banerjee — before the Assembly election had allegedly been recorded through the Pegasus spyware on Kishor’s phone.
“What is the point of keeping the phone anymore anyway? It should either be put into the freezer — we use it for work, don’t we — so that it goes permanently to sleep in the cold. Or get rid of it forever, perform the last rites of the phone,” she said.
“Can the world run like this, or should it? If people’s voices are silenced, what is left to live with?” she asked.
Mamata said if all fundamentals of democracy were weakened, there would be nothing left of it. “Without a government, nobody can purchase these types of instruments from Israel. The government of India purchased this. To capture the democratic rights of the people, all their rights… even judges, who are giving justice to the people.”
She once again asserted that the alleged Pegasus scandal was bigger than the Watergate scandal in the US, involving the administration of President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1974, which led to his resignation.
“The Pegasus scandal is larger than the Watergate scandal, more than a Super-Super-Super Emergency…. Such Hitler-esque methods of ruling by fear, how long can this possibly go on?” she asked.
“The media is scared and intimidated. They (BJP) have captured the judiciary with this (hacking). Leaders of political parties not allowed to speak. Nobody is allowed to speak. Every impartial institution in this nation has been politicised. Every agency has been turned into a variant of Pegasus. A to Z, various kinds of Pegasus have been created,” she added. “They don’t even trust their own officers, their own ministers. Even many in the RSS had their phones hacked.”
In a tweet earlier in the day, Mamata said: “The attack on journalists & media houses is yet another BRUTAL attempt to stifle democracy. #DainikBhaskar bravely reported the way @narendramodi ji mishandled the entire #COVID crisis and led the country to its most horrifying days amid a raging pandemic. (1/2).”
The attack on journalists & media houses is yet another BRUTAL attempt to stifle democracy.#DainikBhaskar bravely reported the way @narendramodi ji mishandled the entire #COVID crisis and led the country to its most horrifying days amid a raging pandemic. (1/2)— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 22, 2021
She added: “I strongly condemn this vindictive act that aims to suppress voices that bring out the TRUTH. It's a grave violation that undermines the very principles of democracy.
Urging everyone in the Media to stay strong. Together we shall never let the autocratic forces succeed! (2/2).”
I strongly condemn this vindictive act that aims to suppress voices that bring out the TRUTH. It's a grave violation that undermines the very principles of democracy.— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 22, 2021
Urging everyone in the Media to stay strong. Together we shall never let the autocratic forces succeed! (2/2)