Media Release: India
August 29 2013
Police investigators inquiring into the source
of a picture published in a daily in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur in
2010 are intruding into press freedom, the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) warned.
Reports from the All Manipur Working
Journalists’ Union (AMWJU), a unit of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’
Union (IJU) indicate that the editor of the Naharolgee
Thoudang, published from the state capital Imphal, recently received a
communication dated August 8 from India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), demanding that he hand over the
original print or digital image of a picture published in the daily in 2010.
The NIA, a recently constituted agency under
India’s Union Government, tasked specifically with investigating terrorism
cases, has also asked the editor to name the photographer involved in capturing
the image of the “raising day” of a banned militant outfit, the Peoples’
Liberation Army (PLA) which has been engaged in an insurgency against
government forces since 1978.
The IFJ has in past years had occasion to raise
a number of concerns about the safety and security of journalists in Manipur.
With a population of less than three million and an estimated thirty
underground militant organisations which operate with impunity, Manipur has
always been challenging terrain for the practice of journalism.
Security officials are often known to issue
explicit threats that media seen to be lending “direct or indirect” support to
any of the banned militant groups would be liable for summary action, including
seizure and forfeiture.
At the same time, the militant groups exert
pressures through numerous channels to seek publicity for particular points of
view and deny others any manner of a hearing.
“We call on the investigating agency in India to
reconsider and rescind its order to the Imphal newspaper, seeking it to
identify the source of a news photograph”.
“In a climate of uncertainty and fear, this adds
to the sense of siege that journalists in Manipur work under”.
“Every ban enforced on an armed underground
organisation is subject to judicial review at periodic intervals”.
“By the same criterion, Manipur’s media must not
be prevented from reporting on these organisations in a manner that is
objective and dispassionate and does not amount to an advocacy of their ends or
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