|Protest over closure of Bengali daily|
GUWAHATI, March 31 – Journalist and non-journalist media employees engaged with newspapers and news channels in Guwahati on Sunday demonstrated in front of Guwahati Press Club against the management of Sangbad Lahari, a Bengali daily simultaneously published from Guwahati and Shillong for its sudden closure notice rendering 100 employees jobless.
The participants covered their mouths with black cloth demanding the withdrawal of the closure notice issued by Shillong Times Pvt Ltd, Meghalaya. The agitators also urged Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam and Dr Mukul Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya to take up the issue with the management to continue its publication.
Sangbad Lahari was launched in Guwahati in 2009 and later its Meghalaya edition was started in July, 2011. The then State Governor RS Mooshahary released the first copy of Sangbad Lahari from Shillong. Mentionable is that Sangbad Lahari was also Meghalaya's first Bengali newspaper. Manas Chaudhuri, the then managing director of Shillong Times Group asserted that Sangbad Lahari was not a money-making venture but a social service for the esteem Bengali readers.
A notice from the Shillong Times Pvt Ltd, Meghalaya (Ref No ST/63/14, dated 26 March 2014) was issued by S Chaudhuri, general manager, describing the management's decision “to close down the publication of Sangbad Lahari from April1, 2014” due to reasons beyond its control.
The management has however, offered a month's salary to its employees as a token of support to them, which has been rejected by All Assam Media Employees Federation (AAMEF). The AAMEF president Hiten Mahanta argued that the management should release at least five months' salaries to its employees with other due legal benefits before closing down the publication, mentioned a statement.
The year 2013 witnessed closing down of three daily newspapers and a satellite news channel. While the employees of Sakaal Bela, a Bengali newspaper, Seven Sisters' Post, an English daily and Dainik Pratibimba, an Assamese daily did not receive any compensation from the managements, the television employees of Prime News had compelled its management with a series of protests to release three months' cumulative salary at the time of closure.