Imphal, Nov. 16: Journalists in Manipur today urged the Okram Ibobi Singh government to expedite investigation into the cases of killings and attacks on journalists and book the culprits.
The demand for justice came during a seminar on media freedom on National Press Day here today organised jointly by the directorate of information and public relations and All Manipur Working Journalists Union.
“Two editors and reporters were killed during 1996 and 2008 as a fallout of the ongoing armed conflict in the state. Two senior journalists escaped attempt on life and there have been many cases of abduction and assaults,” Aribam Ibomcha Sharma, news editor and head of regional news unit, AIR Imphal, said.
The killers were never found and brought to book, he added.
Sharma said mediapersons faced harassment both from non-state forces and state forces and that the safety and security of journalists had become an important issue in Manipur during the past decade.
He suggested that awareness on human rights should be promoted among government authorities, security personnel and non-state actors like armed militant groups to improve the situation.
“Security forces or militants or pressure groups that take the law in their own hands to control the press to fulfil their vested interests, have never been penalised for the excesses or crimes they have committed,” Sharma said.
The publication of newspapers and transmission of local news channels were banned on six different occasions by militant outfits, state administration and civil society organisations from 1996 to 2006.
Media houses often shut down their publications in reaction to protests and threats from the sections of the militant groups.
Senior journalists who attended the seminar demanded the government should give strict instructions to police and investigating agencies to speed up investigation into the cases of attacks on mediapersons.
“Militants and law-enforcing agencies should not mount pressure on the media,” veteran journalist and media in-charge of Manipur PCC, S. Mangi, said.
The issues of paid news and responsibility of the media towards social change were also discussed during the programme.
The information and public relations department decided to submit the recommendations made by participants to the government for the welfare of mediapersons and strengthening of the state information department.