A directive by the West Bengal Government to State libraries and those sponsored by it to subscribe only to newspapers specified by it has raised the hackles of the Left parties as well as certain civic rights activists.

A circular issued by a Special Secretary of the Government directs the libraries to purchase only eight newspapers as specified by it. It provides the names of five Bengali newspapers, two Urdu and one Hindi as those the State's public libraries can subscribe to.

Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra said that such restrictions had not been witnessed even during the Emergency.

Dr. Mishra described it as part of a larger attempt by the Government to stifle the voices of protest against it.

Urging the Government to withdraw the circular, Sujato Bhadra, a civil rights activist, said it was an infringement of the fundamental right of freedom of expression.