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Just two months after she came to power on May 20 last year, the chief minister had a gift for mediapersons covering Writers' Buildings — a swanky, air-conditioned press room equipped with four telephone sets, fax machines and two TV sets.
But as the days rolled on and the media became more critical of her government, Mamata Banerjee — not known for tolerating adverse views — took steps aimed at denying the media access to sources of information at Writers'.
All this was done in the name of protecting the secretariat, especially the chief minister, from possible attacks by extremists including Maoists or other fundamentalists.
Two days ago, the PWD wing in charge of Writers' Buildings got a message from Kolkata Police requesting it to earmark at least 60 points in the building where surveillance cameras can be installed. This is in addition to 19 cameras already in place at the six gates of the building as well as VIP areas like the chief minister's office (CMO).
The PWD has also been asked to look for a room which can be used as a control room. This will be bigger than the existing control room at the VIP gate.
The government has decided to divide the secretariat building into 7-8 zones and public address systems are being installed to make announcements in case of an emergency such as fire or terrorist attack.
"We have been asked to provide the points and the room within the 10-day Durga Puja leave starting on October 20," a PWD official told The Indian Express.
The security drive at Writers' Buildings — with the twin purposes of warding off extremist threats and keeping the media at bay — started a few days after the new press corner was opened.
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