While political parties in Assam are gearing up for elections in April 2021, a single-page ‘payment-list’ to media organization by coal-laden trucks, which is marked ‘confidential’ has gone viral on social media.
The Organizer.org on Saturday reported about it under the headline ‘Panic in Assam after illegal monetary transactions to media go viral on social media’.
The report has been contributed by N.J. Thakuria, a Guwahati-based freelance journalist, and former secretary of the Guwahati Press Club.
“Something alarming has been reported from Assam where a payment-list of lakhs of rupees to a section of Assam media houses and scribes went viral in social media,” the report by Organiser.org, said.
Organiser.org is an affiliated publication of the RSS, and is one of the oldest and most widely circulated weeklies in India since 1947.
The weekly was edited and enriched by eminent personalities like A.R. Nair, K.R. Malkani, L.K. Advani, V.P. Bhatia, Seshadri Chari and R. Balashanker.
The news report said the exposed paper is a list of “beneficiaries”, including some mainstream media organisations based in Guwahati and Silchar.
However, the Organiser.org news report did not quote any confirmed source, or even did not carry statements of any media organizations whose names featured in the “confidential” list.
The Organiser.org report claimed that the “payment list” was prepared on October 21, 2020, and mentioned about payments made between September and October to several newspapers and satellite television channels in Assam.
In addition to the newspapers and television channels, a press association is being offered monthly contribution (protection money) by the coal trucks.
The “payment list” published by Organiser.com included the name of the owner of a satellite television channel, who was paid Rs 1.03 crore by the coal truck owners.
The “payment list” of the coal trucks also included name of a senior office-bearer of the Guwahati Press Club, and was mentioned that he was paid Rs 5 lakh.
In addition to the media organizations and journalists, the “payment list” also mentioned about payments made to Assam and the Meghalaya Police.
The Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has expressed serious concern over the issue. Rupam Barua, president of JFA urged all the media organisations (named in the list) to clarify their stand.
Manoj Nath, president of Guwahati Press Club issued a statement, and termed the list as unverified, baseless and fake.
Nath said he has been in the field of journalism for a long time, and has been following the path of honesty and has not taken any money from anyone. He is also said he is in consultation with his lawyers, and may move a legal case.
Meanwhile, no other media organizations have issued any statement on the controversy, and were not available for comments.
This report will be updated once the media organizations issue statement on the controversy and will be carried in totality.