Sinlung /
04 September 2013

Cops Guard Imphal Media Houses Against Rebel Threat

Imphal, Sep 4 : Armed policemen began guarding media houses and the office of Manipur Press Club in Imphal from Tuesday to protect journalists who face a threat to life from a rebel group.

The development came at a time when scribes in the state under the aegis of All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) staged a demonstration in Imphal to denounce the threat.

SP (Imphal West) K Jayanta said security has been provided to media houses on a temporary basis. "Though the security cover is not permanent, we are extending our utmost efforts to protect the media houses. As long as the journalists face the threat, we will provide security," the SP told TOI.

There have been unexplained killings of five journalists, including four editors of local dailies in Manipur, since the last one decade. Sadly, police are yet to arrest anyone involved in the crime.

The latest quandary was triggered when newspaper houses refused to publish a statement issued by the outfit a few days ago. Editors of Imphal-based media houses, who citied certain reasons, said they could not publish the statement. Following the refusal, the outfit threatened to target scribes and even the newspaper distributors.

Under AMWJU's supervision, the scribes staged a demonstration at Keishampat junction in the heart of Imphal on Tuesday.

Expressing solidarity with their Imphal colleagues, members of Manipur Hill Journalists' Association (MHJA) also joined the sit in. The hill journalists said they will leave editorials of their newspapers blank for Wednesday's edition as a token of protest against the threat perception.

"The outfit has not withdrawn its threat till now. We fervently appeal to them to withdraw the intimidation," said AMWJU general secretary GA Naocha Sharma. Naocha added that Indian Journalist Union (IJU) affiliated to AMWJU has also appealed to the outfit to withdraw its threat saying that media organizations are neutral bodies.

Fearing attacks by the rebel group, reporters did not venture out to far-flung places in the state to gather news, while the hawkers stopped distributing papers from Monday.

On Monday, journalists, as well as newspaper hawkers, staged a protest rally in Imphal and called on chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to express their grievances. The CM, while expressing serious concern over the development, assured to provide security to the media fraternity.

Following the militant group's threat, editors of 17 different media houses of the state set up a committee christened 'Editors' Committee, Manipur' .

As a token of protest, the media fraternity suspended work for two days from Monday and they will resume work from Wednesday.


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