IFJ Calls on Assam Militants to Withdraw Threat of “Dire Consequences” to Satellite Channel

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on an outlawed militant group in India to withdraw threats to a private satellite channel North East Television (NETV).

The group says the network faces “dire consequences” if it does not substantiate a report that has had links with government in the northern Indian province of Assam. The television station is standing by its story and the IFJ is urging the militants to stop making threats and instead take its complaints to industry regulators.

“If there is a genuine complaint it can be dealt with through normal channels of accountability,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “What is not acceptable is to try to bully media with threats of violence.”

Last week NETV, the only private satellite channel in Northeast India, said that the outlawed terrorist group United Liberation front of Assam (ULFA) warned the channel either to prove allegations that the group is working with the government or stop broadcasting and to leave Assam or “face dire consequences.” Government officials have also criticised the channel’s reports.

After protests from the IFJ, the leaders of ULFA said they did not mean to threaten NETV but had thrown down a challenge to the channel to prove its allegations. The network says it is confident that its reports have been fair and accurate.

The IFJ says ULFA must withdraw all threats and refrain from issuing ultimatums to NETV or other media and is also calling on the government in Delhi to intervene to stop the harassment and threats against NETV and its staff.

NETV’s reporting has upset government officials in the past leading a few months ago to a raid on its offices by the state government officers. In another case the President of the Congress Youth Wing, a major political force, also pressured the channel over stories which established cases of land-grabbing for which he was responsible.

For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide