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July 23, 2019

Let there be a law for journalists whose services are terminated: Mamata Banerjee

Let there be a law for journalists whose services are terminated: Mamata Banerjee

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today visited Press Club in Kolkata on the occasion of its 75th foundation day. She met the office-bearers and senior journalists at the club. Mamata Banerjee has always had a close relationship with the media, thankful as she is for them being always by her side during her days of struggle.

Highlights of her speech on the occasion:

I extend my best wishes to both the veteran and the young journalists. Many famous people, former prime ministers, political leaders, artists, writers, intellectuals and others have graced this club.

The work of journalists is very important and the media constitutes a pillar of democracy. We go by the Constitution. We have legislatures that make laws. There is the Election Commission for conducting elections. After the Election Commission, Parliament and Constitution comes the media.

The role of media is very important. Many veteran journalists still write. Today there is both print and web journalism.

Many news now come through Facebook and Twitter, but there is a problem here: news gathered through grime and grit touch the heart the way news transmitted through Facebook and Twitter don’t. I am a writer, and so I know that writing something and just typing out something don’t touch one the same way.

The journalists in earlier days though took more risks with their lives to collect and verify news. Now however life has become easier in many ways but collecting news has become much tougher.

I check my mobile every two hours for news items. Often I give instructions to my officials on my mobile at night and ask them to do it when they wake up the next morning.

When I was the railway minister, I used to come here. I had a portion of the club repaired. I had set up a railway computer reservation centre here. I had set up a scheme through which journalists could travel in trains all over the country at 50 per cent of the fare.

Our State Government had set up the Mabhoi Scheme for journalists through which treatment for journalists in hospitals is accomplished. Till date, 2,514 journalists have benefitted through our scheme.

We also give a pension of Rs 2,500 per month to journalists.

There are many challenges for you ahead. Journalists are losing jobs in many places. When I had helped a television channel, a Central agency had sent me a letter asking why you helped it. The reason is that we are a humane government; if a journalist going through hard times asks for help, we don’t refuse.

I want the Press Club to set up a technical committee and draft a law in this regard, and send it to my government. We will pass it in the Assembly. This law will help many journalists in the future.

Photographers don’t get the benefits that journalists get. Let an amendment in the law be brought to include photographers too in the list of those getting benefits as they too risk their lives. This is my appeal to you.

The year after coming to power, in 2012, the Press Club Committee had come to me asking for land for setting up a permanent clubhouse. The Public Works Department (PWD) has selected a 3.5 cottah plot for that purpose. Go check it out. If you agree, it will be handed over to you.

I will always want that the Press Club runs smoothly. There should not be politics in everything. Dishonest people need to change for the better.

There are many good, honest journalists who don’t have a place to stay in Kolkata. I want to gift 10 cottah of land in Rajarhat for them. They can get loans from cooperative banks or the PWD.

Just like you all, I too write. I want to be a member just like you all. I will gift a cheque of Rs 1,00,001 from the royalty I earn by selling CDs of songs created from my poems.

I thank you all for giving me the membership card of the Press Club. I will keep it with the utmost care.