Meghalaya’s first Bengali newspaper Sangbad Lahari close down

Shillong, March 29:All Assam Media Employees Federation (AAMEF) has expressed serious concern at the sudden closure notice issued by the management of Sangbad Lahari, a Bengali daily simultaneously published from Guwahati & Shillong, paving the way for making over 50 direct and 100 indirect media employees jobless overnight.

The notice from Ms S. Chaudhuri, general manager of Shillong Times Pvt Ltd, Meghalaya (Ref no ST/63/14, dated 26 March 2014), narrates that the management has decided to close down the publication of  Sangbad Lahari w.e.f. 1st April 2014 due to reasons beyond its control.

The management has however offered a month’s salary to its employees as a token of support to them. Sangbad Lahari was launched in Guwahati in 2009 and later its Meghalaya edition was started in July 2011. The then State Governor RS Mooshahary released the first copy of Sangbad Lahari from Shillong. Mentionable is that Sangbad Lahari was Meghalaya’s first Bengali newspaper.

Manas Chaudhuri, the then managing director of Shillong Times group asserted that Sangbad Lahari was not a money-making venture but a social service for the esteem Bengali readers.

AAMEF appeals to the management of the daily to reconsider its decision to close down the publication. The federation also urged Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Meghalaya chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma  to pursue with the management of the daily to continue its publication.

“Otherwise, the management should offer at least five months’ salaries to its employees with other due legal benefits,” said Hiten Mahnata, president of AAMEF.

The bygone year witnessed closing down of three daily newspapers and a satellite news channel. While the employees of Sakal Bela, a Bengali newspaper, Seven Sisters’ Post, an English daily and Dainik Pratibimba, an Assamese daily did not receive any compensation from the managements, the television employees of Prime News compelled its management with a series of protests to release three months’ salary at the time of closure.

Meanwhile, Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has appealed to all the media organisations of northeast India to raise voices against the closure notice of Sangbad Lahari’s management. “A protest demonstration is organised in  front of Guwahati Press Club on 30 March (Sunday) starting at 1 pm. We request the journalist and non-journalist media employees of the city to join the demonstration as a mark of solidarity to the affected newspaper workers,” said Rupam Barua, president of JFA.

AAMEF and JFA also reiterated their demand for a social media audit of the concerned newspaper house, as its management has shown the acute financial crisis as the reason behind the closure notice for Sangbad Lahari, such that its valued readers get convinced about the crisis.(SP News)



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