Attack On Free Press: DIGIPUB Decries Case Against Manipur Journos
The Frontier Manipur’s Editors Paojel Chaoba and Dhiren Sadokpam, as well as writer M Joy Luwang were arrested.
DIGIPUB News India Foundation on Tuesday, 19 January, released a statement “strongly condemning” the arrest and charges being pursued against two editors and a writer from Manipur, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and IPC Section 124A (sedition).
The statement noted, “While we welcome the release of journalists Paojel Chaoba and Dhiren Sadokpam, we condemn the case being pursued against them and the arrest in the first place.”
Citing the right to freedom of speech inscribed in the Constitution and calling this an ‘attack on free press’, it further said:
“The piece in question is critical of the government – an act that every citizen of India is entitled to... Political analysis and editorial writing are a part of a journalist’s work, not an act of terror.”
The digital news body also expressed its disagreement on use of sedition laws for stifling meaningful dissent, writing that these laws “should not be used to counter journalistic writings and pursuits.”
The Frontier Manipur's Executive Editor Paojel Chaoba, Editor-in-Chief Dhiren Sadokpam, as well as writer M Joy Luwang were arrested after the publication of an article titled "Revolutionary Journey In A Mess”, which had criticised "armed revolutionary groups" in the state for straying from their "revolutionary cause."
The police had taken suo motu cognisance of the article published on 8 January and filed a case naming the author and the website’s two senior editors. Besides being booked under the UAPA, the writer and the editors were also charged with sedition.
While the two editors in the case have been released, the legal status of the case, reported Scroll, was still unclear.
How Did the Editor’s Guild Respond?
Reacting to the charge and their arrest, the Editors’ Guild had said on Monday: “What’s worrying and shocking is that the Manipur police has arrested the Editor in Chief Sadokpam Diren, Executive Editor Paojel Chaoba and the writer of the reportedly offending article M Joy Luwang under these draconian anti-terror laws for their analysis of the politics of Manipur state.”
Further, it said that it believes that until the police “is not nuanced in fundamental rights and various Supreme Court judgments on the imperative to protect freedom, no media organisation is safe from the irrational use of these laws.”
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