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Katju writes to Chief Minister, CSOs decry threat on media
Ensure media functions freely, advises PCI
Source: The Sangai Express / Agencies

New Delhi, September 04 2013: The Press Council of India (PCI) has asked Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to take steps to ensure that newspapers in his State, which have been receiving threats from militants, can function normally.

In a letter addressed to Singh, PCI chairperson Justice (retd) Markandey Katju said that he had been informed that newspapers in Manipur have stopped publication since the last few days due to threat by a certain militant group.

He said the militant group had threatened to disturb distribution of newspapers in Manipur and commit violence unless its statements are published in the newspapers.

The All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) has reportedly staged a demonstration in Imphal, demanding protection from the authorities, Katju said.

"I, would, therefore, request you to kindly take all necessary steps to ensure press freedom in Manipur and restore normal functioning of newspapers in the State," Katju said in his letter to the Manipur CM.

The PCI chief said that as per the Constitution of India, freedom of the press is a guaranteed fundamental right.

He said that two Press Council members Kosuri Amarnath and KS Sachidananda Murthy have written to him about the threats faced by newspapers in Manipur.

It is the duty of the PCI to ensure press freedom, he said.



Media persons protesting the  threat
Media persons protesting the threat


Katju also attached news clippings about threats to the media along with his letter to the Chief Minister (PTI) .

Hawkers protest : Members of All Yairipok Hawkers Association staged a sit-in protest at Yairipok Bazar in the morning of August 31 to denounce the threat posed to newspapers distributors by certain elements.

Newspaper hawkers who took part in the protest expressed that they have been serving the people by delivering newspapers notwithstanding uncongenial working condition and even in the face of danger.

With the meagre sum received by selling newspapers, most of the hawkers have been looking after their families.

Condemning the threat on them, the hawkers appealed the concerned to withdraw the threat and the ban considering their hardships.

Placards reading 'Do not deprive the right to life of hawkers', 'Let us distribute newspapers freely', 'Do not threaten us', 'We want peace' etc were displayed during the sit-in protest.

Meanwhile the All Jiribam Working Journalists' Union (AJWJU) has today pledged to join any steps whatever taken by AMWJU to assert the rights of the journalists.

A statement issued by AJWJU has urged all concerned not to cause harassment to journalists of the State in future.

Even as the journalists community and newspaper distributors (hawkers) denounced the threats served on them by an armed organisation by taking out a silent protest rally on September 2, followed by a sit-in demonstration on September 3, members of civil society organisations today staged sit-in protests to demand a free a conducive environment for all those involved in the profession of disseminating information to the public.

With the newspaper distributors intimating to the media establishments that they would not be able to serve the people in the aftermath of the armed group threatening that they too would not be spared if newspaper distribution continues, newspaper publications remained suspended since September 2 .

While silent protest rally was taken out on the same morning from Manipur Press Club till the Chief Minister's official bungalow wherein representatives of journalists and newspaper distributors handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister, a sit in protest was staged at the gate of Keisampat Power House yesterday to protest interference in the activities of the journalists as well as the distributors.

During the protest sessions placards and banners were used to denounce threat through telephone calls and SMSs to a number of journalists and newspaper distributors from individuals who claimed to be activists of an armed group.

Meanwhile, civil society organisations joints staged a sit-in demonstration at Keishampat Lairembi community hall to denounce threat to media persons as well as demand immediate and necessary measures by all concerned to facilitate resumption of newspaper publication/distribution.

Speaking at the occasion, NIPCO president Sunil Karam reminded that journalists and newspaper hawkers had been playing crucial role of not only disseminating information but also in exposing elements inimical to the society.

Describing media as important component of a democratic set-up, he regretted that cessation of newspaper publication owing to external pressure had put the society back into the dark ages.

In his brief comment, Irabot Foundation president Thounaojam Iboyaima conveyed that the media not only serve as an important means of communication and dissemination of information but has also become of the one most important assets of a modern society.

Speaking at the occasion, Nupi Samaj leader Ramani described cessation of newspaper publication as living in a deaf and mute world.


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