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West Bengal government restricts journalists' movement in government building

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 12 December 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses concern over the decision by the West Bengal state government in India to restrict journalists' movement in Nabanna, the state's main administrative building.

The West Bengal Police passed an order last week stating that journalists will not be allowed to enter any of the government department's offices without prior permission from the authorities. It also stated that if journalists are found violating the order, they would be arrested and charged under the Indian Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act.

The journalists protested the decision and boycotted a press conference called by finance minister Amit Mitra on Monday, December 8 after he refused to speak on the issue.

The Nabanna building houses most of the important departments like home ministry, finance, hill affairs, land reforms, fire and disaster management, minority affairs and the chief minister's office. Earlier this year, journalists were barred from entering the chief minister's office without permission.

The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) condemned the restriction saying it's a part of 'the increasing curbs and restrictions being imposed on journalists in various parts of the country'.

A statement by DUJ General SK Pande stated: "Restraining journalists to a corner will restrict their information collection to only what is doled out by the authorities."

The IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, Jane Worthington, said: "To restrict the movement of journalists in government offices is against the principles of democratic rule and restrict press freedom. We urge the West Bengal government to review the decision and allow journalists to report freely."

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