Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has finally found a target to blame rape cases in West Bengal: the media.
“We have all read the fable of a shepherd and the tiger. The way media is cooking up rape stories, it would be difficult to believe even a genuine rape complaint in future,” Mamata said on Saturday. Over the past few months the Mamata Banerjee government has been under fire for a series of rape incidents regularly hitting the headlines of the media.
Some are even paying money to set up these conspiracies; yet others are paying a section of the intellectuals to get suitable quotes that would malign the state government, she said it at a convention of the Trinamool youth wing Yuva.
The chief minister’s words rang the bell first heard after the February 5 Park Street rape case, when she labeled the incident as concocted designed to frame her government. Subsequently, at joint commissioner (crime) Damayanti Sen’s initiative Kolkata Police led a probe that confirmed gang rape on the 37-year old Anglo Indian woman.
During her 15-month tenure, Mamata has slammed the media several times. She has criticised the media for highlighting farmer suicides. In February, she stopped the media from entering a particular section of the state secretariat apprehending the media can ‘misplace’ important files.
On Saturday the chief minister also took on a section of Bengal’s intellectuals, alleging they are taking “bribes” from the media to comment on issues that will malign her government. “A section of these people are taking around Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh from certain television media to make comment that would malign the image of the government. It is similar to the practice of keeping cadres by the CPI(M). I have got all the documents supporting my allegations,” warned Mamata.
Political leaders from parties, including ally Congress criticised the chief minister’s contention. “It is unfortunate for Bengal to have a chief minister like Mamata Banerjee,” said Congress MP Adhir Choudhury who is also known as a Mamata baiter.
“The analogy of the tiger and shepherd is misplaced. It has indeed taken place in Bengal but has a difference. When small incidents too place during the Left Front rule, she exaggerated those. And now when big incidents are taking place almost everyday, she is not believing them,” said CPI(M) central committee member Mohammed Salim.
Saturday’s meeting was the second consecutive day when the chief minister lambasted the media for its coverage of the rape cases. In a Kolkata Police function on Friday, Mamata alleged, “A section of the media is cooking up the rape stories to malign the women of Bengal.”