Imphal, Sept. 6: People in Manipur missed today’s editions of Imphal-based morning papers after distributors and hawkers abstained from work following a “militant threat”.
The distributors, under the banner of All Manipur Newspaper Sellers and Distributors Association, decided to stop work indefinitely from today after a purported “militant” group, which had threatened media persons earlier, issued fresh threats to the vendors.
Sources in the association said the militant group had summoned four of their functionaries to a place in Imphal East yesterday but they had decided not to go, fearing a possible hostage situation.
The summons, however, served its purpose. The vendors took it as a threat and decided not to distribute newspapers today. Though all Imphal-based media houses published the morning papers, the copies did not reach subscribers. The summoning of the association’s leaders is considered to be an extension of the threat the militant group had issued to media houses for not publishing ones of its press statements. The statement was issued around a week back. But daily papers did not publish it.
The Editors Committee Manipur and All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union are disclosing neither the name of the group nor the details of its statement, as disclosing this would amount to fulfilling the goal of the outfit. Sources said the threat to the vendors was a move aimed at mounting pressure on the media houses to publish the outfit’s statement.
The two organisations had lodged a written complaint in Imphal police station in connection with the threat. But the police have not been able to ascertain the identity of those behind the threat. The police are regularly consulting journalist organisations to keep up with the latest developments. The media houses, however, are ready to continue publishing the dailies, though the owners were not willing to print tomorrow’s editions without the hawkers reversing their decision. The hawkers, on the other hand, have decided not to distribute papers tomorrow.
The leaders of the journalist organisations and the distributors’ association met this evening to discuss the latest development and chart out the future course of action.
The Press Council of India, following a complaint by journalist organisations of the state, has already written to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to take all necessary measures to allow newspersons to function freely and without any fear in Manipur.