A group of journalists in Tripura on Friday wore black ribbons in public in Agartala in protest against Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s comments about the media, The Indian Express reported. On September 11, while attending a programme in Sabroom, Deb had said that some media outlets were publishing “fake Covid-19 news” and that the state government would take action against them.

“Some newspapers are publishing confusing news related to Covid-19 medical management,” Deb had said at the foundation stone laying ceremony for a Special Economic Zone. “Neither history will forgive them nor will I forgive them. These media houses and newspapers are spreading fake news and scaring people.” Deb also claimed that the media was confusing people of Tripura with their “overexcited reporting”.

The protesting journalists considered these statements a threat. “We, as mediapersons carry out our duty on behalf of the people,” Tripura Association of Journalists Convener Subal Kumar Dey said on Friday. “But our rights and right to freedom and expression are being trampled in the last 30 months, unlike even the Emergency”. The Tripura Association of Journalists had organised the demonstration.

The journalists’ group convenor claimed that the police regularly summoned journalists to police stations to “victimise” them. He alleged that journalists have been threatened and assaulted in many parts of Tripura.

Dey said the Tripura Association of Journalists had earlier met Governor RK Bais over the matter, and would continue to communicate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the Press Council of India. Dey said that Bais had assured the association that he would speak to Biplab Deb about the matter, Northeast Now reported.

The Tripura Association of Journalists also demanded that the government retract the order, gagging administration officials against speaking to the media. They demanded that Deb withdraw his remarks, and the assaulted journalists get justice.