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Media access to West Bengal's Nandigram area curtailed; IFJ deplores intimidation of journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Deplores Intimidation of Media in West Bengal's Nandigram Area

The International Federation of Journalists deplores the intimidation of journalists in the Nandigram area of West Bengal state in India by armed vigilantes belonging to the principal constituent of the state's ruling coalition.

According to information received by the IFJ, heavily armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been engaged over the past many days in an operation to "recapture" villages of the Nandigram area that had fallen under the control of a local activist group agitating against the confiscation of land for a chemicals export project.

This campaign has reportedly been accompanied by a sustained effort to curtail media access to the area, and the harassment and intimidation of human rights campaigners seeking to ascertain facts.

The IFJ extends its solidarity to the media community of West Bengal and fully endorses the call by the Kolkata Press Club that the state government ensure the free movement and safety of all journalists.

"Denial of information to the public serves no purpose," said Jacqueline Park, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director. "We believe that this will only allow rumour and disinformation to flourish, preventing an effective process of reconciliation in a highly charged environment."

The IFJ strongly urges professional media bodies in West Bengal to document each instance of media workers being attacked or intimidated and to demand accountability from the state government.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 117 countries.

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