As the three-day deadline set by journalists to withdraw his comments against media expired Tuesday, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb clarified that he didn’t threaten anyone in his speech at Sabroom on Friday and maintained that his comments were meant to prevent people from being ‘misled’ on Covid-19.
Deb also said he tried to present the “truth” before people and keep them morally upbeat, safe and healthy.
“I didn’t want to hurt anyone in my speech at Sabroom. I am committed to safeguard the interests of people of Tripura, keep them safe and healthy, save them from stepping into conspiracies. If I don’t say, who will tell? If the chief of the state doesn’t speak up, people will assume that whatever is being said is the reality. Often, monkeys are turned into tigers in propaganda. The truth has to be kept before people. I have just tried to present the truth,” he said.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Tripura’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Sabroom in southern Tripura on Friday, Deb had said that a few newspapers were trying to confuse people over COVID-19 and he would not forgive them.
His comments were met with severe criticism as the state’s media fraternity claimed Deb’s comments were a “threat to press freedom”. The Tripura Assembly of Journalists (TAJ), a forum for protection of journalists, set a three-day deadline for the CM to withdraw his comments, failing which they would write to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Press Council of India, Tripura Governor RK Bais, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Editors Guild, media organizations etc. seeking recourse.
As the deadline expired yesterday, Deb said that his comments were never meant to “insult or hurt” anyone but to save people of Tripura from falling prey to propaganda and conspiracies.
In an oblique reference to the claim that his comments were perceived as a threat to the fourth pillar of democracy, Deb said, “It should be seen what the CM has said. It doesn’t serve the purposes by saying who is which pillar of democracy. We all know that. Responsibilities of such people should be understood as well. It should be analyzed if we are able to render our responsibilities properly or we have got shortfalls. We should introspect on this”.
The CM also said his government doesn’t act “arrogantly” and introspects its actions. On the rising Covid cases and related deaths, Deb reasoned that people with symptoms didn’t report to healthcare centers and also concealed their ailments during a door-to-door survey out of fear of hospitals.
Reacting to his comments, veteran editor and chairperson of Tripura Assembly of Journalists (TAJ) Subal Kumar Dey told this publication that he isn’t satisfied with the CM’s reply.
“It seems he has tried to brush the issue under the carpet. We are not satisfied with it. We shall reconvene in a meeting in two days and decide on our next course of action,” Dey said.
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