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Mrinal, Mahashweta lash out against Mamata's newspaper ban

West Bengal,Media,Politics, Wed, 28 Mar 2012 IANS

Kolkata, March 28 (IANS) Renowned filmmaker Mrinal Sen and writer Mahasweta Devi Wednesday condemned the Mamata Banerjee-led government's decision to ban all leading dailies except eight vernacular newspapers in state-funded libraries to promote "free thinking" among readers.


While Mahasweta said dictatorship would not serve the purpose of the society, Sen questioned whether Banerjee herself reads newspapers or not.


"Dictatorship has never worked. It has neither worked in Hitler's Germany nor did it work in Mussolini's Italy. The government has to understand what common man wants. I have earlier written against the Left Front government in various newspapers but nobody has ever stopped the common man from reading the newspapers," the writer said.


"I cannot support such decision. I don't support it," she said.


Mahasweta, who had backed Banerjee against the erstwhile Left Front regime, earlier termed the West Bengal government "fascist", prompting the chief minister to say that the writer was "misinformed and misled".


Later, the Magsaysay Award winning writer-activist stated that her remark was not targeted at the chief minister.


Sen said he "hated" to even comment on such developments.


"I don't know what this government is doing. I don't know how many days this government will exist. I really don't know. Does the chief minister herself read newspapers? I really don't know," said Sen.


Among the newspapers which have been barred from the state-funded libraries are the largest circulated Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika, Bengali dailies Bartamaan and Aajkaal, and leading English newspapers The Telegraph, The Times of India, The Statesman and Hindustan Times. In fact, none of the English dailies feature in the list of newspapers permitted.


"In public interest, the government will not buy newspapers published or purported to be published by any political party either national or regional as a measure to develop free thinking among the readers," reads the March 14 order issued by the department of mass education extension and library services.


The circular has specified eight newspapers that henceforth will only be available which includes five Bengali, one Hindi and two Urdu dailies.


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