TODAY -
AMWJU delegation grieves at Raj Bhavan, airs plight to PM
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, October 24 2009: With the State Government yet to take any concrete action against personnel of Manipur police commando involved in the abuse and assault of two journalists on october 10 night, a team of All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) today called on the Governor Gurbachan Jagat to highlight plight of the journalists working in the State.

After the meeting that lasted about 30 minutes, the Governor assured the journalist team that he would make all possible effort to settle the tussle between the SPF Government and journalists within 2-3 days.

According to an AMWJU statement, the journalist delegation presented a detail account of problems that the State scribes had been enduring and the attitude of the State authorities towards the journalist fraternity.

Besides highlighting alleged callousness of the o Ibobi Singh-led SPF Government to the demand of AMWJU for appropriate punitive action against the rogue commandos, the delegation also handed over a memorandum to the Governor for further submission to the Prime Minister of India.

the representation to Dr Manmohan Singh alleged continuous harassment of journalists by Manipur police and the state government against the backdrop of the sorry state of affairs in Manipur and state's apathy towards such incidents of-harassment.

Drawing attention of the Prime Minister that Manipur being a conflict zone, journalists have to endure tremendous pressure from both state and non-state actors with little manoeuvring space.

However, the journalists' community has been responsibly discharging its duty delicately balancing the spirit of the freedom of press with its commitment to the laws of the land and responsibility to the people, it mentioned while expressing hope that Dr Manmohan would understand plight of journalists in a conflict zone like Manipur.

Contending that in the recent past, the state government had been trying to browbeat journalists in Manipur into submission with threats of de-registration and state action further compounded by an arrogant state police force, already infamous with widespread allegations of staging numerous fake encounters, it also sub-stantiated the accusations by referring to the July 23, 2009 incident of Imphal Khwairamband Keithel, wherein a young housewife and a former militant were mercilessly killed, as a recent case of police high-handedness.

The most recent cases of intimidation of the press are storming of some media houses in Imphal by goons of chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh's home constituency of Thoubal with active support from the state police force on September 25, 2009, and threatening of two journalists returning home from duty at gun-point on the night of October 10, 2009, the representation maintained.

It further pointed out that on the night of September 25, 2009, ten busloads of supporters of the chief minister escorted by the state police force stormed some prominent media houses and threatened them with dire consequences if they did not publish their version of the statewide protests against fake encounters. "On the night of October 10, 2009, two journalists returning home from duty were singled out and way-laid at Bir Tikendrajit Road point of Imphal city by the infamous police commandos.

Upon demands for identification, the two journalists produced their identity cards identifying themselves as members of the press.

However, they were separated and questioned.

One of them was kicked in the butt and threatened to be shot with a cocked gun.

The police commandos threatened the journalist that he could always be shot and explained later on that he was killed in an encounter and nobody would care about it." The AMWJU condemned the incident and demanded prompt action against the errant police commandos.

However, the senior superintendent of police of Imphal West district issued a statement against the journalist community with wild allegations of drunken behaviour and nexus with the insurgents, the PM was highlighted.

Recounting a special general body meeting of AMWJU which condemned the police statement and demanded transfer of all the officers in the chain of command of Imphal West District, the scribe body also highlighted decision for boycotting the state Chief Minister and his colleagues including government handouts relating to development, and also not to sit for negotiations with the state government, till some visible action is seen.

The boycott began on October 13, 2009 and the two victim journalists gave their verbal statements to the Chief Minister himself on October 16, 2009, upon his (CM) request and assurance of some visible action.

Yet, the state government has not taken up any action in this regard, till date.

recounting that the chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh had himself accused the state police of misinforming him about the July 23 incident in Imphal city, in which a passer-by Rabina Devi, seven month pregnant and former militant Ch.

Sanjit were killed by police commandos in an alleged fake encounter, the AMWJU memorandum expressed concerned that the state government is once more playing into the hands of the state police force and 'putting up a confrontationist attitude towards the journalist community of Manipur.

AMWJU urged the PM to prevail upon the state government to punish the errant police commandos and to set into motion corrective measures towards reforming the state police force into a disciplined force.


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