AN RSS outfit will be awarding “nationalist journalists” of West Bengal as a “celebration of journalism” in the state. The ceremony will be held on Narada Jayanti as, according to the Sangh, the Hindu mythological figure was “the world’s first journalist”. Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has been invited to attend the May 13 programme, which will also reward “a group admin in social media”. However, it is unclear if Tripathi, who is unwell and in hospital, will be able to attend. Manmohan Vaidya, the RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, is also scheduled to attend the programme.
The programme is being organised by the RSS-backed Vishwa Samvad Kendra. Hinting at the kind of journalists they would be honouring, Biplab Roy, the convener of the Vishwa Samvad Kendra and RSS spokesperson, south Bengal, told The Indian Express, “The courage showed by journalists in Kaliachak and Dhulagarh should be respected. They endure hardships and face violence to report the truth… True journalism always strengthens nationalism.”
On January 3, a mob had set fire to a police station in Kaliachak in Malda district, angry over remarks made by a Hindu Mahasabha leader on the Prophet. The BJP had accused the Mamata Banerjee government of shielding the accused, claiming most of them were illegal Bangladeshis. Following the Dhulagarh communal violence that had led to the arrest of 65, the BJP had accused the state government of “appeasement politics towards a particular community”.
In March, the RSS had passed a resolution at its Coimbatore meeting condemning “the unabated rise in violence by jihadi elements in West Bengal, encouragement to anti-national elements by the state government due to its Muslim vote bank policies and (the) declining Hindu population in the state”.
Roy told The Indian Express, “Mythological Narada, a ‘samvad vahak’ (messenger of news), was the world’s first journalist. On ‘Narada Jayanti’ we have decided to celebrate journalism. Two journalists and a group admin in social media will be awarded for their role in journalism and nationalism.”
The Vishwa Samvad Kendra, a Sangh affiliate set up in 1994, is a pan-India body dealing with journalism. It has set up a committee to shortlist journalists for the award, which would be given away annually. Roy said the Sangh was “eager to interact with journalists so that they know about it”. “The Sangh is involved with a number of social activities in West Bengal, which people know little about. Our Seva Kendras are doing an exemplary job at the village level,” Roy added.