Sheikh Safiqul Islam, a journalist in West Bengal who regularly reports on the misconduct of the local administration on his web news channel of Arambagh TV, was allegedly been threatened by the administration in West Bengal. On the intervening night between the 5th and 6th of May 2020, around 30 to 40 men had gathered around his house and his family was threatened, his wife claims. The wife claims that she is not sure whether the men were from the Police or not. She said that they were targeted because of the news reportage of her husband. She said that the news venture will be abandoned given the severity of the threat to their lives.
The web channel is already facing police action as several FIRs have were registered against them last week.
The wife of Safiqul Islam said that she fears for the lives of her children and hence, the news channel will be abandoned. She says that it’s not the fear of her husband’s life that she has taken her decision but due to that of her children. she claimed that the goons banged on her door and terrorised her family and they could not sleep the whole night fearing for their lives. She says that Safiqul Islam has always spoken up for the truth and has never spread false news. She says that such things are not observed in other states but in Bengal alone. She also condemned the kind of politics that prevails in Bengal.
Late into the night, Safiqul Islam released a video on his YouTube channel which was made at his home. In the video, he says that a crowd of men had gathered near his house and he wasn’t sure whether they were policemen or goons. He said that attempts might be made to enter his home or arrest him. He also said that there was the possibility that he might be thrashed brutally. Safiqul Islam also said that he does not know how the night shall pass but hoped that his audience will continue to support him during such times of crisis.
The Arambagh TV had questioned the Mamata Banerjee government over making donations to various clubs in the state during the Coronavirus pandemic. The channel had shown the images and list of 59 clubs which were given Rs 1 lakh each, asking how many of them actually exist. The web channel had also questioned the mismanagement of the health crisis in the state. After that, several FIRs were filed against Safiqul Islam and reporter Suraj Ali Khan under several different sections of IPC at the Arambagh police station. Notices were sent to them informing them that they have been booked under sections 420, 468, 469, 471, 500, 505, 120B, but the notices didn’t mention the exact reason of the FIR.
It may be noted that even mainstream media houses like Anandabazar Patrika had also reported that names of fake clubs appear in the list of clubs granted money by the West Bengal government, but the Arambagh TV has been targeted for raising the same issue. Safiqul alleged that it was a conspiracy to close down his web channel. He asserted that they will not bow down to this atrocity and will fight it in the courts.
The Atrocious Conduct of West Bengal Government in recent times
The Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) had slammed the West Bengal government for its handling of the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis in its final observations regarding the state of affair. Apart from exposing the flaws of the Mamata Banerjee led government in handling the crisis, it also provided evidence of the state government fudging data. Prior to that, Mamata Banerjee decided to not give her approval to the Indian Airforce to shower petals over two Kolkata hospital on Sunday as part of a military gesture to show gratitude to the country’s corona warriors. The conflict has only risen between the Centre and the West Bengal government after the Mamata Banerjee-led government was angry over the centre for sending special teams to the West Bengal to take stock of the coronavirus ground situation. Health Experts have also alleged that the government was fudging data regarding the Coronavirus pandemic.