The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, today voiced its concern about recent attacks by militants on a newspaper house in Srinagar, Kashmir and a senior journalist in Manipur.
“Attacking newspapers that refuse to be cowed down by threats, represent an outrageous violation of freedom of the press,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.
On February 9, the office of English daily Greater Kashmir in Srinagar was ransacked by about 20 members of the breakaway faction of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front led by Javed Mir. Three employees, including a senior editor, were injured and the newsroom was damaged.
According to the Greater Kashmir staff, they had been threatened with “dire consequences” if they did not publish all the statements issued by the outfit. This shocking act of vandalism was reportedly carried out under the leadership of the faction’s convener Javed Ahmad Mir and general secretary Saleem Nanajee, who even threatened that he could get the media persons killed.
An FIR has been lodged against the assailants, and one of them,has been arrested.
On the same day, in Manipur in the remote north east of India, unidentified gunmen shot at and critically injured senior journalist Ratan Luwangcha. The incident took place at the Uripok area in Imphal town around 8.45 am when unidentified armed men who came on a two-wheeler pumped three bullets on Luwangcha, Bureau Chief of Poknapham, a local language daily, while he was standing near his home. Luwangcha, who is also general secretary of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) is battling for his life in the intensive care unit of Shija Hospital. While the reason behind the shooting is yet to be ascertained, none of the militant outfits in the state have claimed responsibility.
Journalist organisations in the state, including the AMWJU, the Manipur Press Club and the Editor’s Forum, staged a protest rally in Imphal and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi to protect the journalist fraternity.
The All Manipur Working Journalists' Union and Editor's Forum have resolved to stage a sit in protest from February 10 onwards and will also cease publication of the local dailies on the same day as part of intensifying their agitation.
“This culture of intolerance must stop,” said Warren. “This is not the first time that the newspapers and journalists in the Valley and the strife-torn north east have come under assault from various agencies. The attackers must be severely dealt with, in order to send the message that tactics of intimidation cannot silence the independent press.”
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 (0) 411 757 668
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 100 countries