Kolkata: Under fire for increasing incidents of rape in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday blasted a section of media houses alleging that they paid money to concoct opinion.

"Now media is run by business houses. They instruct spreading of canards. I have been told by Firhad Hakim (urban development minister) that he has heard that Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh is paid for saying what is told. They also lodge diaries if necessary and then withdraw it," Banerjee said at a party youth rally.

"Just because you own a channel, you cannot incite rapes and suicides. Speak the truth. Do not incite crime," she thundered.

She said that the trend began with the death of babies at a state-run children hospital and alleged farmer suicides.

"Now they have picked up rapes to highlight. First there is breaking news. Then there is a contradiction. This carries on for two days. Do not treat people like guinea pigs," she said.

"If the complaints are genuine, the administration will take steps. But if you lie, the police will lodge diaries against you. To incite is a crime. Certain things can be tolerated for a certain time, but not all the time," Banerjee, who holds the Home portfolio, said.

She, however, clarified that she did not mean the entire media. "I do not say that all media is bad. Some media does this."

Banerjee claimed that the media today hardly took up the issues of the downtrodden and exploited and said that Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju had also written to her about it.

"Katju had earlier criticised us. He can do so. But now he has written a letter to me on the present day media to which I will reply."

In the face of a string of incidents of alleged rapes in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that canards were being spread over 'fabricated incidents'.

"I know some conspire to spread canards to denigrate women. I have always said that if an incident happens the police should take strong action. But please don't insult Bengal motherhood with mere fabricated incidents," Banerjee told a Kolkata Police function at the Netaji Indoor stadium here.

She, however, did not identify the forces behind such fabricated incidents.

Stating that Bengal was civilised and cultured, she said she was tired of various interpretations of murders, rape and fires on news channels all day.

"I don't like negative. I am positive. I think negative should be turned into positive," she said.

Banerjee, who holds the Home portfolio, admitted that activities of some policemen made people unhappy. "I have to change their attitude. I feel that the police force should be strong, pro-people and humane. There are also good people in the police.

"Policemen are also human beings and we should also look at their service in times of riots and natural disasters, she added."


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