Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee
Photo: PTI

May 3, celebrated across the world as Press Freedom Day has prompted many of India's political leaders to tweet on the topic of press freedom. Coming as it does against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, many also lauded media personnel for continuing to work amid the lockdown and rising number of positive cases.

West Bengal Chief Ministe Mamata Banerjee took to Twitter on Sunday calling the media the "fourth pillar in a democracy".

"We respect journalists for their contribution to society. Our Govt in #Bangla has many initiatives for the welfare of journalists," Banerjee wrote. In a follow-up tweet she added that the State government had announced health insurance with up to 10 lakh coverage for frontline COVID workers, including journalists.

India had recently descended further along the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters without Borders. The country at present ranks at 142, below countries such as Palestine (137), South Sudan (138) and Myanmar (139).

While there has been debate regarding the methodology used, and whether the rank is indeed a true reflection of the Indian media situation, on Sunday the opposition Congress reacted negatively, criticising the government. The BJP on the other hand questioned the rating itself.

Mamata's statement has garnered a mixed bag of reactions. While some took sarcastic jibes at the situation in the state as well as in the country as a whole, others supported the Chief Minister.

Many of the responses of course went off in an altogether different tangent.

Take a look at some of the posts.

Banerjee is not the only political leader in the country who took to social media to emphasise the necessity of press freedom.

"On #WorldPressFreedomDay, I salute all those media personnel who are working tirelessly to uphold the values of fair journalism and to further strengthen the 4th pillar of democracy. I also applaud our media’s unparalleled role during COVID-19 and pray for their good health," tweeted Home Minister Amit Shah.

"Media has the power to inform and enlighten people. Media in India enjoy absolute freedom. We will expose, sooner than later, those surveys that tend to portray bad picture about "Freedom of Press" in India. #WorldPressFreedomDay" wrote Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Other Chief Ministers, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot too tweeted to mark the occasion.

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