The chief of Purulia district council has reportedly compared journalists with sex workers, inviting sharp criticism from local reporters and intellectuals.
Srishtidhar Mahato, sabhadipati of the zila parishad, made the alleged remark on Tuesday evening at a workshop for journalists at the conference hall of the council’s building. The event was organised by the state government.
Speaking after inaugurating the event, Mahato said the present day journalists have sold themselves to the influential and were like “sex workers, dancing to the tune of those ready to pay”.
Local reporters and intellectuals took out a rally Wednesday from the parishad bhavan to the district magistrate’s office and later submitted a deputation to the DM, condemning Mahato’s comment. A copy of the letter was also sent to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, the district department of cultural affairs and the Press Council of India.
Mahato, a Trinamool Congress leader, on Wednesday refused to explain the alleged remark, even as intellectuals slammed him. Poet Nirmal Halder, who took part in the rally, said: “It is disappointing to hear such comments from people we have elected. He should tender an unconditional apology. Not only has he degraded journalists, he has insulted sex workers as well because they do it out of compulsion.”
Gautam Mukherjee, professor at Sidho Kano Birsha University, said: “A representative of the state saying such things is definitely not proper. I strongly condemn his statement.”
After meeting the protesters, Purulia DM Tanmay Chakraborty said he was was “apologetic” since the comment was made during a government programme. “I will forward the letter to respective authority and will do whatever I should within my capacity,” he said.
District TMC president Shantiram Mahato said the comment made by Mahato was “disappointing”.