Manipur journalists lift cease-work protest against attack on media

The All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) and the Editors Guild Manipur (EGM), in a joint meeting on Thursday, resolved for all media staff to resume normal duties from February 19.


(PHOTO: IFP)

Journalists in Manipur have decided to lift the sit-in protest against the attack on a local media house in the state and for all media staff to resume normal duties from Friday.

The All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) and the Editors Guild Manipur (EGM), in a joint meeting on Thursday, resolved for all media staff to resume normal duties from February 19.

The members also reaffirmed at the Thursday meeting the decision taken on November 15, 2020 for media house in the state to not publish any reports regarding the internal conflicts of the insurgent group United National Liberation Front (UNLF) unless the conflict is settled.

It was also resolved to hold further general body meeting if the present issue of the attack on Poknapham office is not solved at the earliest.

An unidentified person on February 13 hurled a hand grenade inside the office of Poknapham and its English daily, the People’s Chronicle at KeishampatThiyam Leikai in Imphal at about 6.30 pm. The bomb, however, failed to explode.

A CCTV footage shows the hand grenade being lobbed by an unidentified woman in a white two-wheeler. The woman is suspected to be a member of a valley-based extremist organisation.

Strongly condemning the grenade attack, the media fraternity in Manipur had been staging a cease-work protest against frequent threats and attack on media in the state.

All media houses had halted news publication since the attack in support of the sit-in protest organised by the AMWJU and the EGM.

While no individual or group has own up the responsibility for the attack yet, Manipur Police on Thursday announced a cash reward to individuals providing information leading to the arrest of the person involved in the grenade attack.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh urged the media fraternity on February 16 to lift the protest, saying that the culprits will be booked soon. He also assured the journalists in a meeting with AMWJU and the EGM that security cover would be provided to media houses in the state.

The chief minister also said that a four-member special investigation team (SIT) probe has been ordered into the attack. The SIT team is headed by Imphal West district SP (Superintendent of Police). Despite the chief minister’s assurance, journalists in Manipur continued with their protest, strongly condemning the attack and frequent threats to the media in the state.

Meanwhile, a case under FIR No 16 (2)2021 IPS u/s 307 IPC, 13 UA (P) Act & Explosive Substances Act has been registered, the police stated.

On Sunday, expressing solidarity to journalists in Manipur, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) strongly condemned the bomb attack and said the government must book the culprits. 

"IJU wholeheartedly condemned such attacks on media houses. Such incidents have happened in the past and we do not know who will be the target next time," IJU president Geetharta Pathak said in a statement. 

Geetharta had said that unless and until the government gives safeguard to the media houses and ensures security of journalists, similar incidents will continue.

"Such attacks on media houses and journalist can continue if terrorist exist and as such the government should tighten its stand on terrorism... It will be very unfortunate if the government is not sensitive to the freedom of media, which is essential for democracy," Geetharta added.

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First Published:Feb. 18, 2021, 11:39 p.m.

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