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False propaganda against print media condemned

By Correspondent

KALAIGAON, March 27 - Distribution of newspapers in Udalguri district has been badly affected, as distributors and hawkers did not attend their duties because of the lockdown declared by the government to prevent spread of COVID-19. The matter was raised before the district administration, and Deputy Commissioner Prakash Ranjan Gharphalia assured the media and people that the administration will ensure hassle-free distribution of newspapers.

The Deputy Commissioner said distribution of newspapers by hawkers was an exempted service, and directed the DIPRO and SDIPROs to ensure all help to the hawkers.

Gharphalia also visited the 200-bed Udalguri Civil Hospital on March 25 to take a look at the preventive measures. The Deputy Commissioner looked into the arrangements for examination of suspected coronavirus-infected people, and held a discussion with the hospital superintendent and doctors, and also visited the seven-bed special COVID-19 isolation ward.

The Deputy Commissioner visited the newly constructed ITI building � which may be used as a quarantine centre with the capacity to accommodate 70 persons at a time. The DC also visited the Chandana Tea Estate Hospital and factory to look at the measures undertaken by the tea garden management to combat the coronavirus. He was accompanied by Additional Deputy Commissioner Amarjyoti Barman.

Our Doomdooma Correspondent adds: People of Doomdooma have expressed concern over false propaganda that newspapers could be carriers of COVID-19.

Talking to this correspondent, Dhiren Deka, president of the Assam Science Writers� Association, said, �Fake news propagated in social and electronic media about coronavirus spreading through newspapers has created confusion and panic in the minds of the people. In view of the fact that its credence has been denied by medical experts the world over, this is a grossly fabricated and malicious piece of news that does not have any scientific foundation.� �If paper currency is acceptable to us even when it reaches us after changing many hands, then why this hesitation towards newspapers which are distributed by single-hand delivery by a hawker,� Deka questioned. �Such stories are harmful to the society during this national crisis and steps should be taken to discourage such motives which go against scientific temperament,� he added.

Amulya Khataniar, a senior journalist of Tinsukia and a recipient of the state journalist pension, also expressed resentment over such false propaganda. �At this crucial moment, the society needs newspapers for spreading awareness against COVID-19. It is unfortunate that such rumours are being spread,� he said.

Arjun Baruah, president of the Tinsukia Zila Sahitya Sabha, criticised those who are spreading false propaganda without any scientific basis, while Dr Rishi Das, president of the Tinsukia District Journalists� Association, said the rumours have no scientific basis, and urged agents, hawkers and readers not to give credence to such rumours. Manoj Dutta, secretary of the Doomdooma Press Club, said media houses take all health-related precautions throughout the journey of newspapers from the printing machine to the hands of readers and there was nothing to be afraid of. He urged law enforcers to make arrangements for hawkers so that they can distribute newspapers without any hindrance.

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