Imphal, Sept. 2: Scribes and newspaper distributors of Manipur took out a joint rally here today to protest against a threat by a “militant group” to editors, reporters and newspaper distributors.
Sources in the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union said a “militant group” had issued a statement a few days ago, claiming that it had carried out some action, but the newspapers did not publish the statement as they had doubts about the “genuineness of the existence of the group”. This resulted in the rebel group issuing threats.
The journalists’ union did not disclose the name of the militant group and the action claimed by it, as this would amount to publishing the group’s name and actions as desired by it.
The president of the union, Wangkhemcha Shyamjai, said the march was taken out to protest against the threat and to appeal to the rebel group not to threaten media houses and distributors. He added that such threats to media were frequent.
The rally came a day after a delegation of Editors’ Committee met chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to apprise him of the threat perception.
Newspaper distributors have stopped giving papers since yesterday following the threat.
Some of the hawkers stopped distributing morning newspapers since August 28, following the threat.
More than 200 newspersons and hawkers marched from the Manipur Press Club here to the gate of the chief minister’s office complex.
A joint delegation of the newspersons and hawkers met the chief minister and reported the threat and sought a secure environment for newspersons.
“The chief minister assured us that the government would take security measures for protection of media houses and would also track down those issuing the threats. He requested us to give the government two to three days’ time to track down the group,” the general secretary of the journalists’ union, G.A. Naocha, said.
As the hawkers stopped distributing newspapers, many subscribers came to newspaper offices this morning to collect newspapers.
Imphal has more than 15 daily publications, including five English dailies.
Later in the day, leaders of the Editors’ Committee, Newspaper Sellers and Distributors’ Association and All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union decided to take a joint stand on the threat.
Imphal city was partially closed today in protest against the killing of an autorickshaw driver, Ayekpam Nobin, by unknown persons in Thoubal district on August 28.
Autorickshaw services in and around Imphal were suspended for the day. Police have not been able to find any clue to the identity of the killers.