TODAY -

Editorial of the week

Hostage situation
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 19th April, 2006



The media in Manipur is today under a threat. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that six Editors were held hostage for one night and they were released the next morning only after certain conditions laid down by the captors were fulfilled.

We are not only talking about the threat perception that is felt over the personal security of all the Editors, reporters or sub-editors, but about the threat that is posed to the fourth estate. The protest rally that was staged on April 19, was to highlight the hostage situation that has been enforced on the media in Manipur.

This is not the first time that the media in Manipur has come under attack. Recently the general secretary of the All Manipur Working Journalists' Union was critically wounded in a gun attack and the injured scribe is still recuperating.

The manner in which numerous social organisations and civil societies responded to the assault and held dharnas all over the place to condemn the attack was heartening.

However we would like to add that the manner in which six Editors were lured to the den of the captors and then held captive is something unprecedented in the State and today it is not only about a threat issued against a newspaper or a particular reporter or an Editor but about the threat posed to the functioning of the fourth estate in Manipur.

What are the steps that can be taken up to ensure that the newspapers and news channels in the State are able to function freely without such threats in the future is the question that has to be tackled on a priority basis. This question, we feel should be the concern of not only the journalists but also the concern of all voluntary organisations and civil societies in the State.

As we have mentioned, the manner in which numerous voluntary organisations rose as one to condemn the attack on the general secretary of the All Manipur Working Journalists' Union was encouraging and we feel the time has come again for such organisations to come out and make their stand clear.

Manipur is not a stranger to violence. There have been numerous cases of abductions and people being held hostages for ransom. Many have been mindlessly killed and many more maimed.

Journalists have been attacked and injured by both State and non-State actors, but this is the first time that the media as an institution is under threat today. This is what is disturbing.

To ensure a free and fair media is not only the responsibility of the Government and the ethical conduct of the journalists themselves but calls for a more pro-active civil society that should make its stand clear on such a critical issue.

Voluntary organisations, civil societies, the meira paibi movement, student organisations etc have all been at the forefront when any critical issue turns up and we would like to say that such a critical issue in indeed on us today.

It is time for all the voluntary organisations and other bodies to come out in the open and extend their solidarity for a cause of a free and fair media. The media which has taken up enormous responsibilities in the past to highlight issues which are important to the people and the State today is under the threat of being strangulated through the muzzle of guns and muscle power.

Surely every responsible citizen of the land and every responsible organisations of the State have a moral obligation to ensure the safety of the fourth estate.

A healthy media is a healthy reflection of society and everyone has a duty to ensure this.


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