West Bengal Govt summons journalists, state BJP chief for ‘spreding fake news’ on Vande Bharat stone pelting incident

The Trinamool Congress Government in West Bengal, working under the leadership of CM and party chief Mamata Banerjee, has initiated yet another witch-hunt against media voices. Kolkata Police registered an FIR against state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar and 10 journalists from the city on Monday, January 9, for allegedly ‘misreporting’ the stone pelting incidents on the Vande Bharat Express.

As many as 10 reporters from various media organizations and BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar were summoned to Beliaghata Police Station. The BJP leader and scribes were booked by the Kolkata police, at the behest of the Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, under specific sections of the Information Technology Act for giving the state a ‘bad name’.

BJP hits back

Following the summons, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar retorted by saying that he is not afraid of TMC’s dirty tricks and is ready to face a legal battle.

“The FIR against journalists & me just for reporting Vande Bharat stone pelting in Bengal shows the condition of democracy under @MamataOfficial rule. I’m not afraid of TMC’s dirty tricks & ready to face a legal battle but cases against journalists should be scrapped asap,” tweeted the BJP leader.

BJP leader Amit Malviya also took to Twitter to criticise the Mamata Banerjee establishment for harassing the media and attempting to stifle press freedom. “This is nothing but harassment of journalists working for Delhi based media organisations, based in Bengal, for reporting on Vande Bharat stone pelting incident, which has apparently tarnished Mamata Banerjee’s “image”. FIR filed against them… This is worst kind of censorship,” Malviya tweeted.

Notably, the arbitrary action against the journalists and the BJP chief was taken by the state machinery after Mamata Banerjee recently threatened media outlets with legal action for spreading ‘fake news’ that the incidents of stone pelting on Vande Bharat Express trains took place in West Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee threatens ‘fake news spreaders’ with legal action

Notably, both Majumdar and ten others took to social media to report that the newly inaugurated Howrah-New Jalpaiguri semi-high-speed train was vandalised by some miscreants in West Bengal. However, Mamata Banerjee claimed that it was in Bihar where stones were pelted and not in Bengal. 

Mamata Banerjee further said that the people of Bihar are angry as they did not get a Vande Bharat Express.

“Vande Bharat was pelted with stones in Bihar and not in West Bengal. We will take legal action against those media outlets that telecast fake news that the incident took place in West Bengal and brought a bad name to our state,” Banerjee told reporters before leaving Sagar Island.

“People of Bihar may be angry as they too want Vande Bharat Express. Just because BJP isn’t in power there, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t allow there,” she said.

The West Bengal CM also said that there is nothing special about Vande Bharat Express, it is just an old train refurbished with a new engine.

Two back-to-back stone pelting incidents on Vande Bharat Express 

The Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat Express was stoned for two days in a row. The Eastern Railways later reported that after reviewing CCTV footage, it was discovered that the stone-throwing incident on the train occurred in Malda district on January 2 and in Bihar’s Kishanganj district the next day.

Soon after the video surfaced, West Bengal’s chief minister stated that legal action would be taken against media outlets that disseminated “fake news” that the incident occurred in West Bengal, hurting the state’s reputation. The incidents triggered a slugfest between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the train on December 30.

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