‘Worrying & Shocking’: Editors Guild on Arrest of Manipur Journos
The guild demanded a withdrawal of “these cases that pose a threat to free expression, and to democracy itself.”
The Editors Guild of India, in a statement, has dubbed the recent arrest under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) of a writer and two editors of Manipur website The Frontier Manipur as “a brazen violation of every constitutional safeguard given for freedom of expression.”
The writer and the editors were also charged with sedition.
WHAT DID THE EDITORS’ GUILD OF INDIA SAY?
Reacting to the charge and their arrest, the Editors’ Guilt said:
“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, the Editors Guild 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.”
Pointing out that this is not the first use of the such draconian laws against editors and journalists by the administration, the Guild said:
“In the past too, journalists holding opinions contrary to the dominant narrative have been subjected to retaliation by the administration. In Manipur itself journalists have been targeted and arrested under these laws for doing little more than posting critical comments on Facebook.”
Further, the Editors Guild of India demanded the immediate release of the editors and withdrawal of “these cases that pose a threat to free expression, and to democracy itself.”
According to The Scroll, the two editors in the case have been released. However the legal status of the case, reported Scroll, was still unclear.
According to an NDTV report, the two editors, Frontier Manipur's Executive Editor Paojel Chaoba and Editor-in-Chief Dhiren Sadokpam, had written to the police claiming that the “unverified” article was published in The Frontier Manipur owing to the “oversight,” and said that there will be “no (more) mistakes.”
“The source of the article was unverified... came from one person called M Joy Luwang... published in one vernacular and one English daily. I regret the government finds the article questionable... I submit it was an oversight from our part. There will be no (more) mistakes...,”The editors said, according to NDTV.
According to NDTV, on 8 January, The Frontier Manipur had published "Revolutionary Journey In A Mess” - an article by M Joy Luwang that had criticised "armed revolutionary groups" in the state for straying from their "revolutionary cause".
Following this, the police had taken suo moto cognisance and reportedly filed a case naming the author and the website’s two senior editors.
(With inputs from NDTV and Scroll.)
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