August 27, 2023

Tripura: Daily Desher Katha Observes 45th Foundation Day

Arupratan Sarma

DAILY Desher Katha (DDK), the leading newspaper of Tripura observed 45th foundation day on August 15, 2023. When the overall media is being more and more captured by big corporates, when the space for people’s voice in mainstream media is getting more and more squeezed, achievement of a glorious and towering milestone by DDK will definitely encourage the progressive minds.

The Bangla daily had started its publication on August 15, 1979. The journey so far has not been smooth at different times. Right after the BJP-IPFT coalition won the assembly election in Tripura on March 3, 2018, vicious attack on the newspaper was unleashed by the anti-social elements harbored by the ruling party. There were innumerable incidents of physical attack on the reporters, workers, hawkers and even the readers of the newspaper. There were many incidents of snatching packets of DDK from transporting vehicles and burning or destroying them. Police and the state administration, in spite of repeated complaints, turned a completely blind eye to such terror tactics. Even the Press Council of India had to issue directives to the chief secretary and the director general of police to take all required measures for ensuring free circulation of the newspaper.

Freedom of expression was undermined brutally by the state government when the publication of DDK was forcibly stopped by the administration in 2018. Later on the newspaper came out victorious in a prolonged legal battle, when the actions of the state administration were declared void by the high court.

In spite of all these attacks, DDK showed steely resolve to fight and not to bow down under any circumstances. The newspaper marched ahead with its commitment to the people’s cause. On the occasion of 45th foundation day, a public meeting was organised in Bhanu Ghosh Memorial Hall. Participation of common people in the meeting was noteworthy. While the hall was full to its capacity, many people could not find sitting space inside. They stood outside and listened to the speeches quietly. The meeting was addressed by the ex-chief minister of the state, Manik Sarkar and the ex-MP Jitendra Chaudhury, alongwith others. It was presided over by the chairman of Daily Desher Katha Trust and ex MP Narayan Kar. Editor of the newspaper Samir Paul too spoke on the occasion. The speakers recollected the struggle the newspaper had to undergo during its long journey. The present day struggle against the fascist terror let loose by the BJP government also figured in the speeches.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Manik Sarkar asked the newspaper to take on a fearless role in building up a strong resistance against the enemies of common people. He recollected the relentless attack the newspaper had to face during 1988-1993 at the time of earlier Congress-TUJS government. At first it was a weekly newspaper named Desher Daak. Afterwards the name was changed to Desher Katha retaining its weekly publication. Later on the newspaper started daily publication from August 15, 1979. Manik Sarkar mentioned about the old days and told that the newspaper had to overcome a lot of difficulties to serve the people’s interest. He also mentioned about the present day scenario of the whole country. He told that the corporate and the communal forces have joined hands to loot the nation. While the obscene gap between the rich and the poor is rapidly increasing, the ruling party is working hard to divide people in the name of religion, caste, ethnicity etc. Their intension is clear. They never want the people to realise the actual reason of the misery they are subjected to, because if they understand, they would get united against the divisive and exploitative forces.

Manik Sarkar, in his speech, mentioned about the latest session of the parliament, when the opposition parties were compelled to bring a no-confidence motion so that the prime minister is forced to speak on Manipur. He also mentioned that the prime minister, even though he spoke for more than two hours in reply to the no-confidence motion, uttered about Manipur for not more than 2-3 minutes. The speech of the prime minister was so disappointing that the opposition MPs had to walk out midway during his speech. Sarkar also mentioned that the government is bent upon capturing the Election Commission, as is evident from the decision in which the chief justice of India has been excluded from the committee to select the chief election commissioner and the other election commissioners. Manik Sarkar has urged the DDK to inspire people to come out in protest against the anti-people policies of the governments at the central as well as state level.

CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury, in his speech, mentioned that the DDK is fundamentally different from other newspapers. Unlike other newspapers controlled and managed by vested interests, DDK has a pledge to raise the voices of common people. This is the reason for which the newspaper has been and is still being subjected to relentless attack. But the newspaper, braving all sorts of attacks, has been presenting the issues related to the everyday life of the working class as well as the peasants and the marginalised groups. Even the present government has tried to create hurdles for the newspaper by lowering its category and stopping advertisements. Reporters, hawkers, employees and even the readers of this newspaper are being subjected to harassment and physical attacks.

Jitendra Chaudhury mentioned about the speech of the prime minister delivered on the Independence Day and told that the speech was nothing but a mere electoral verbosity. Without mentioning anything about the hopeless plight of the country, the prime minister took recourse to rhetoric to show some unrealistic dreams to the struggling countrymen. He urged upon the DDK to work for uniting the people against the anti-people governments at the state and the central level.

Narayan Kar, ex MP and chairman of DDK Trust reminded in his speech that the DDK is committed to the issues and movements of the working class. He declared that the newspaper would continue its support to democracy and the movements for protection of democratic and constitutional rights of common people.

Samir Paul, editor of DDK emphasized in clear words that the newspaper would never bow down before vested interests, whatever be the attack from the fascist forces.

The big gathering present in the meeting was enthusiastic about the supporting and assisting role of the newspaper to the people’s movement.