TODAY -

Editorial of the week

Gagging media
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 09th August, 2007



It is a fact, well known to all, that one has to encounter numerous difficulties while working in a conflict situation State like Manipur, and media houses here are no exception to this.

But it is really unfortunate that undue pressures are being piled on mediapersons in performing their duties of disseminating information to the public on top of the associated professional hazards they are unavoidably exposed to.

So the recent restraining order on media houses issued by the Home Department, the head of the law enforcing agencies of this democratic State, in connection with publication of certain news reports even while voices have been raised from all quarters against interference in the working of media by outlawed organisations is not just distur- bing but uncalled for, to say the least.

It may not be an exaggerated presumption in denouncing the move taken up by the Government as nothing but an attempt to arm twist media persons and muffle the voice of the Fourth Pillar of democracy.

No doubt, looking from the point of view of the prevailing unsettling situation, the res- training order of the Government may signify not to allow publication of any news item related to the activities and propaganda of the underground organisations and snap the com- munication link with the public.

But all the same it would put one more fetter on the already chained legs of mediapersons in this strife-torn State.

The moot point that can be discussed, analysed and taken note of at this critical juncture is the total negation of the fundamental rights of the people guaranteed by the Indian Constitution by the said order.

If an individual or group of people or an organisation cannot express its opinion and commu-nicate the same to others, then there is nothing wrong in concluding that it is in violation of the fundamental rights.

Inspite of the legal implication in coming out with seditious statements or making remarks that posed threat to the integrity of the nation, the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and speech should be respected and honoured.

This assertion should not be construed as apprehension of the possible pres- sures from the outlawed organisations for publishing their statements in reaction to the Govern-ment order.

It is only a plea that rights of the people should not be suppressed by the Government machineries which are there in the first place to enforce the rule of law of the land.

In view of the ambiguous nature of the order of the Government which seems to incline more towards suppression of the rights of the people and gagging media, all in the name of countering the problem of insurgency, it is desirable on the part of the Government to review, rather withdraw its order, before the issue snowballs and do more harm than its intended good.



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