The registration of 'Daily Desher Katha', a mouthpiece of the Tripura CPI(M), has been cancelled over an "ownership dispute", triggering angry reactions from the senior leaders of the party .
In a letter on Monday, the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI) had said the publication was being suspended based on a verdict passed by the district magistrate of West Tripura, Sandeep Mahatme. It cited "unauthorised change of ownership" as reason for the cancellation of the Bengali Daily's registration.
CPI (M) central committee member Gautam Das said the move by RNI was "totally illegal, politically motivated and anti-democratic".
"At the behest of BJP, DM of Tripura West passed an order to close down 'Daily Desher Katha' even after the newspaper placed before him the revised certificate of registration issued by Registrar of Newspapers for India. It is politically motivated. Before passing the order state BJP's Rajib Bhattacharjee was in the chamber of District Magistrate and had a long meeting, after that he (DM) passed the illegal order," said Das.
Das, who had served as the editor of the newspaper for over 40 years, said, "The CPI (M) had a weekly newspaper titled 'Desher Katha' in the sixties and seventies. It was upgraded to a daily in 1979 following all procedures."
The veteran leader relinquished the editorship of the newspaper in 2015. "In 2012, when I was still the editor, the ownership of the paper was transferred from the party to a duly constituted Society, under Society Registration Act-1860. It changed hands again this year as a newly formed trust took over the paper and CPI(M) member Samir Paul was appointed the printer and editor," he said.
Das, however, asserted that no norms were flouted during the transfer of ownership. "The party and the owner would move the Supreme Court against the RNI's move," he added.
Reacting to the allegations by Das, Tripura BJP chief Rajib Bhattacharjee said, "'Daily Desher Katha' which is the mouthpiece of CPI-M was being run illegally and the District Magistrate closed down the paper. CPI-M blamed BJP for it which I condemn."
Shyamal Debnath, a resident of the West Tripura, had filed a case against the paper earlier this year.