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States » East

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

Kolkata, Jul 23 (UNI) Let there be a law for journalists whose services are
terminated, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee here on Tuesday.
Ms 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.
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," she said.
Ms Banerjee said 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 chief minister said.
She said 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," Ms Banerjee said.
"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," the chief minister said.
"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," she said.
Ms Banerjee said,"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," she said.
"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," the chief minister said.
Ms Banerjee said, "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," she said.
"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 chief minister said.
"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," Ms Banerjee said.
"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," she said.
"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," the chief minister said.
"I thank you all for giving me the membership card of the Press Club. I will keep
it with the utmost care," Ms Banerjee added.
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