International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) extends its solidarity to colleagues
in the Indian state of Manipur in their collective protest at the dire threats
issued by a local militant group against S. Singlianmang Guite, correspondent
of the The Sangai Express.
response to a joint call made by the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union
(AMWJU) and the Manipur Hill Journalists’ Union (MHJU), the state’s newspapers
and news channels shut down en masse on July 22 against this threat to a
has since called off its mass abstention following an unconditional written
apology by the armed group concerned. The MHJU will continue its protest
closure for another day.
that this is the third time in as many years that the media in Manipur has had to
shut down completely to protest the threats it receives from the numerous
militant groups and security agencies in the state,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director
Jacqueline Park said.
have also in the recent past been impelled to surrender their press accreditation
cards to the authorities in a symbolic protest against their perilous existence.
closure, unlike earlier ones which stretched on for days, has been relatively
brief. But it highlights once again how journalism in Manipur is at constant
risk of being caught in the crossfire between rival armed groups on one side
and state security agencies on the other.”
to IFJ sources, Guite’s home in the district town of Churachandpur was visited at 11.45 am on July
21 by three men who arrived in a car. Witnesses identified the vehicle as one frequently
used by the Hmar Peoples Convention (Democratic) – or HPC(D) – a militant group
that recently entered into a “suspension of operations” agreement with the
authorities in Manipur state and the Indian Union Government.
former secretary of the MHJU, was not home. But the militants, brandishing
firearms, spoke threateningly to his wife and demanded she put them in contact
with Guite. Once phone contact was established, the putative leader of the group
spoke at length in an angry tone, warning Guite of dire consequences if his paper
did not retract a report published that morning.
dealt with a rescue operation that had freed an abducted doctor. The site of
the rescue was identified as one where the HPC(D) is active, and seemed in the
perception of the militant group to implicate them in the abduction. Though Guite
did not prepare the report, which was published with the dateline of the state
capital of Imphal, he was picked out as an easy target.
“The IFJ urges
civil society in Manipur to stand firm against this tendency for militant
groups and security agencies to pick on journalists as soft targets, in effect
depriving the people of the state of accurate information on matters of vital
concern to them,” Park said.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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