Scribes protest threat, petition Governor

Denouncing high-handedness and alleged threat to union president by some leaders of BJP Manipur Pradesh, members of All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) staged sit-in-protest Tuesday in front of Keishampat electricity office.

Senior journalist N Deven told media persons at the protest venue that press is considered as the fourth pillar of the democracy but it was very unfortunate that some leaders of a ruling political party are intimidating media persons. Such threats to media should not be taken lightly and hence authority concerned must take immediate befitting action, he added.

During the sit-in-protest, an 11-member delegation of the scribes’ body also submitted a memorandum to Governor Dr Najma Heptulla. The delegation led by AMWJU president Wangkhemcha Shamjai and advisor N Tombiraj sought immediate intervention and action from the Governor.

Copies of the memorandum have also been sent to the President of India, Prime Minister, Press Council of India and Indian Journalists’ Union for their intervention on the matter.

During meeting with the delegation, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla reportedly assured to take immediate action to resolve the matter amicably.

In the memorandum, AMWJU said that media in Manipur has plunged into a highly imperilled situation with the journalists’ free and unbiased versions and opinions to shape the society continued to be gagged by those in power.

The memorandum also highlighted the incident which compelled the union to come out on the street to protest against the excesses of some leaders of Manipur unit of BJP which is ruling the state.

According to the memorandum, AMWJU president Shamjai was amongst three panellists who took part in the daily discussion session hosted by local cable television network ISTV on November 24 last.

The topic of discussion was ‘VIP culture in Manipur’ and a BJP MLA and an academician were the other panel members.

During the discussion, Shamjai dwelt on the ugly faces of VIP culture in the country in general and the state in particular. He also mentioned about security cover given to some leaders of state BJP unit despite the commendable efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end VIP culture in the country. The AMWJU president then mentioned the names of state BJP leaders enjoying security cover which include vice-president Asnikumar Moirangthem, spokesperson RK Shivachandra and secretaries K Sharat and Jadumani Singh. Asnikumar, Shivachandra and Jadumani contested in the last state assembly elections on BJP ticket but none of them were successful, the memorandum said, adding that the AMWJU president did not demand withdrawal of security escorts from them but simply questioned the rationale behind granting security cover without any prejudice or ill-feeling.

On November 30, Shivachandra called up Shamjai over the phone and threatened the latter for mentioning his name in the list of BJP leaders who enjoy security cover. Shivachandra also used rude and defamatory language against Shamjai, the memorandum said, adding that AMJWU strongly condemned the excesses and autocratic nature of RK Shivachandra.

The union, while terming it as an attack on the sanctity and independence of the media, also maintained that Shivachandra should take total responsibility if anything happens on the life of AMWJU president. Much to the union’s surprise, Shivachandra made a post on his facebook account defaming the AMWJU president the same night and even used highly objectionable language enough to assassinate Shamjai’s character.

On December 3, Rk Shivachandra and K Sharat convened a press conference at state BJP office and threatened to file defamation suit against AMWJU president if the latter fails to tender an apology.

An emergency meeting of AMWJU convened on December 4, resolved that the union will fight collectively against those unprincipled BJP leaders to preserve and strengthen the sanctity and independence of the press, the memorandum said and urged the Governor for intervention and action against the unprincipled individuals.

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