Imphal, Sept. 7: Editors and reporters of local dailies hit the streets here and in Thoubal district this morning to sell the morning editions after newspaper distributors and hawkers refused to do so since yesterday following a militant threat.
Manipur has in the past witnessed shutdown of publications for days together following militant threats and agitation by newspersons. But this was the first time that journalists and employees of media houses got down to selling newspapers.
Trouble began a little over a week back when local dailies refused to publish a militant outfit’s statement, doubting the genuineness of the group.
When it failed to get the statement published even by threatening the editors, the outfit trained its guns on newspaper distributors and hawkers. The latter gave in to the threats yesterday and stayed off work in the morning, leaving the publishers in the lurch. They even rejected an appeal by journalists to resume work.
The editors, however, resolved to keep publishing and put on the hawkers’ shoes this morning to ensure that subscribers are not deprived of another day’s news.
“I and my staff opened four vending outlets in Imphal at 4 this morning. People came out and bought the papers from us,” Khongendra Khomdram, editor of Sangai Express (Manipuri edition) told The Telegraph. “We sold 15,000 copies of the Manipuri edition and 10,000 copies of the English edition of Sangai Express. I haven’t slept yet.”
The editors of two other morning papers, Hueiyen Lanpao and Naharolgi Thoudang, also led their staff to open outlets here.
A joint team of the three newspapers, including the editors, also took copies to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s district of Thoubal and sold copies there. “We will continue the process tomorrow if the hawkers do not turn up to collect papers for distribution,” Khogen said.
A source in the journalists’ union said the hawkers were unlikely to resume work tomorrow.
The journalists vending newspapers were given police protection this morning to ensure that nothing untoward happens to them.