Assam scribe writes to PMO, demands probe into coal mafia-media nexus
Special Correspondent, Guwahati: The issue of much discussed coal mafia-media nexus in Assam has reached Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi as a city based nationalist scribe has sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging for a probe into the matter involving illegal tax collections in tune of crores of rupees. The PMO has already sent its acceptance message (PMOPG/E/2020/0978435) digitally.
Journalist Biswajit Nath in his memorandum appealed to PM Modi to take ‘personal interest in asking Assam government to conduct an authentic probe so that the media fraternity can be cleaned up and punish the culprits under the laws’. He pointed out that the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government often asserts on zero-tolerance to corruption police and hence it should punish the culprits.
The development started with a payment-list of lakhs of rupees per month to some Guwahati and Silchar based prominent media houses and individuals involved with the medium that went viral in social media.
The sheet of paper marked a list of beneficiaries among many satellite news channels (Pratidin Time, Assam Talks, Prag News, News Live, NE Live) and newspapers (Niyamiya Barta, Jugasankha, Dainik Prantajyoti, Navabarta Prasanga, Samayik Prasanga, etc).
Written as confidential and claimed to be prepared on 21 October 2020, the unauthenticated list also mentioned a press association in Guwahati as the recipient of monthly contributions (read protection money) from the coal-carrying truckers. Moreover, it named Sanjib Jaiswal (presumably the owner of news channel DY365) and Manoj Nath (president of Gauhati Press Club) with a few others along with the Cachar police, Karimganja police (in Assam) and Meghalaya police personnel as due beneficiaries.
Once the issue came to the public domain through social media, many digital media outlets inside and outside the region covered the issue.
Similarly, two State based important media bodies came out with the statements of concerns as the development was harmful to the collective image of mainstream media. Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) expressed serious concern over the exposure and appealed to all concerned media persons (who were named in the list) to clarify their stand effectively.
On the other hand, the Press Club of Assam (PCA) demanded a high-level probe into the matter. Urging State chief minister Sonowal, it pointed out that the enquiry became necessary for both the State media and the government to maintain their fair images. However, the concerned media managements continue to remain silent over the matter not to speak of their much-needed clarifications till date.