Kolkata: A West Bengal minister on Friday denied that the government has warned of arrest of media persons if they violate the restrictions on their movement in the state secretariat "Nabanna", which drew sharp reactions from the media persons.
"No one has spoken of arrest of journalists. Such a news is baseless and motivated", the state's minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Firhad Hakim said.
"Journalists do always go to different departments at Nabanna with prior permission. They go everywhere. Even journalists do go to the Chief Minister's chamber," Hakim said.
The Minister's denial came after journalists today took exception to the police move to restrict their movement to the "Press Corner" of the West Bengal secretariat 'Nabanna' and warning that any movement beyond that would invite serious consequence, even arrest.
In a circular dated January 15, 2014, the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (Reserve Force) Ashoke Kumar Biswas had laid down a "Standard Operating Procedure" which would restrict reporters to within the "Press Corner".
Only in case of a reporter having a prior appointment with any officer or minister was to be allowed outside the press enclosure.
However, faced with widespread criticism of the move, the police had refrained from enforcing the circular.
Today's move, according to the police, was prompted by some reporters moving freely from one floor to another and even found knocking at the doors of senior officials without prior appointments or permission from the authority.
Instructed by the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Reserve Force) Ashes Biswas, a policeman cautioned the news persons that the breach of the instructions contained in the circular would attract strong steps.
The DC (RF), could not be contacted for his comment on the issue.
The circular said, "Movement of media persons from the Press Corner to any other part of Nabanna without Visitors' Photo Entry Slip or approval of the competent authority for the purpose of media coverage is literally a breach of the SOP."
The reporters are at present allowed entry through the north gate, visitors' gate (west) and visitors' gate (south-east) after their Press Accreditation Cards were checked by security persons.