The Mamata Banerjee government has closed down three local news channels in Darjeeling that had been airing pro-Gorkhaland movement contents, while allowing cable operators to air other channels.
While the Darjeeling district administration said the channels were closed down for not having necessary licenses, chief minister Mamata Banerjee hinted in Kolkata that the channels were closed down for ‘provoking people against the government’.
“The cable operators were asked to stop broadcasting any channel as part of a routine check-up. There was nothing else it in. I, too, want my brothers there to watch channels… the entertainment channels… but some were using their channels to make provocations. The government won’t tolerate provocations,” she said in the evening.
Cable operators resumed operations in the evening, after a blackout of 36 hours. However, no reaction from the GJM leaders was available till night.
According to Anupam Subba of the Darjeeling Combined Cable Network (DCCN), the district administration has allowed them to air local entertainment programmes but barred them from airing local news channels.
Banerjee’s statement reminded many of her regular warnings against media houses that print or air contents that criticize her or her government. While she has asked people many times not to watch news channels and to watch entertainment channels instead, she had also threatened action against news channels of taking action on charges of airing ‘wrong news and provocative news’.
Meanwhile, the 8th day of the indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) saw the arrest of two front rung GJM leaders. While Narayan Pradhan- the Secretary of the Morcha Darjeeling town committee was arrested on Friday night; Mahendra Pradhan- GJM Central Committee member and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) member from Sonada was arrested on Saturday evening.
Late on Friday evening Narayan Pradhan was arrested. “He had two pending cases pertaining to National Highway blockade” stated Kunal Agarwal, Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling. 3 others were also arrested for blocking national and state highways.
Narayan Pradhan was produced at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on Saturday and his bail was rejected. He has been sent to Judicial Custody. “Mahendra Pradhan was also arrested on charges of National Highway blockade,” added Agarwal.
Exodus of boarding students also continued with no signs of any resolution of the ongoing political stalemate. “I am sending home the boarders who hail from Nepal, Bhutan and Kolkata. The Thailand and Philippines boys will have to stay” stated Father Santy, Rector, St. Joseph’s School, Darjeeling. Mount Hermon School, Darjeeling also sent home the boarders from Thailand.
The GJM today distributed a truck full of vegetables to the masses whose food stocks had exhausted.