Several Media Persons Lost Their Battle to COVID-19 in NE


Anindita Kalita

Since last year, northeast has lost 20 media persons to complications related to Covid -19.

A 54-year old Guwahati-based printer and publisher of popular Assamese daily Asomiya Khobor, Rantu Das died from Covid -19 complications on 3 July 2020.

The following month three other journalists lost their battles. Rural reporter, Dhaneshwar Rabha, Silchar-based senior journalist Ashim Dutta, and a radio news presenter, Golap Saikia.

This year itself, two luminaries of Assam, 89-year-old author-journalist Lakshmi Nandan Bora, and 88-year-old veteran journalist, editor, and litterateur, Homen Borgohain succumbed to ailments aggravated by Covid -19.

Guwahati-based talented journalist Aiyushman Dutta lost his life on April 26 to Covid-19 related complications. Followed by him, Moran-based journalist Jadu Chetia, Chaygaon based scribe Shivacharan Kalita, Bokajan based reporter Dihingiya, and Nagaon-based reporter Humeswar Hira died from Covid-19 complications.

Nilakashi Bhattacharya, a New Delhi-based Assamese journalist died of Covid-19 aggravated ailments on April 30, 2021. Her husband, a senior journalist from Assam, Kalyan Barooah also lost his life on May 1. That same day, Anirban Bora, another media person died in New Delhi.

Jitendra Debbatma who was associated with a Kokborok language news channel passed away on October 21 last year. Some other media-related people who lost their battles to Covid -19 are Tanmoy Chakraborty, Manik Lal Das, and Gautam Das.

Manipur lost a senior journalist, Sagolsem Hemant (65), Saikhom Shantikumar, Thotshang Shaiza, Lairenjam Bijen Singh lost their lives to Covid-19 complications.

The Central Government and some state authorities paid compensations to the families of the journalists who lost their lives due to Covid-19. But no state government in the northeast came forward with such schemes.

Initially, the Government of Assam announced that media-related victims will receive beneficiaries of Rs. 50 lakhs as life insurance along with other frontline warriors. However, it has not done anything yet and maintained a stoic silence over the commitment. Similarly, other Northeastern state governments have paid no importance to the matter.

The region is set to complete the year without any incident of journalists being murdered. But on the other hand, the nation loses 5 to 15 journalists to assailants each year.

The last time North East witnessed such cases was in the year 2017.

Assam and Manipur witnessed the murder of journalists in 2012. Tripura reported the assassination of three media persons in 2013. The brutal killing of veteran Assamese freedom fighter and journalist Kamala Saikia became the saga of sensational journalist murder. The murder of human rights activist and journalist Parag Kumar Das on May 17, five years later created a massive public outcry.

Apparently, the executive editor of Asomiya Pratidin was targeted by surrendered armed militants for writing articles criticizing them.

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