The DIGIPUB News India Foundation has strongly condemned the Manipur police detaining two journalists under IPC Section 124A (Sedition) and also booking them under the “draconian” Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The foundation of digital media organisations said the move was against the right to freedom of expression guaranteed to journalists by the Constitution of India.
Dhiren Sadokpam, the Editor-in-Chief of The Frontier Manipur, an Imphal-based English news portal, and the publication’s Executive Editor Paojel Chaoba were detained by the Manipur police for a day for the publication of the piece ‘Revolutionary Journey In A Mess’. Diren and Chaoba were released on Sunday after the latter said the publication happened due to an oversight. The police registered an FIR against the two editors and M Joy Luwang, the writer of the piece, after taking suo motu cognizance of the piece published on January 8, saying it "openly endorsed revolutionary ideologies and activities and expressed shock at the deteriorating character of armed revolutionaries of Manipur in the last decade".
“While we welcome the release of journalists Paojel Chaoba and Dhiren Sadokpam, we condemn the case being pursued against them and the arrest in the first place,” said DIGIPUB News India in a statement.
“The piece in question is critical of the government – an act that every citizen of the country is entitled to. Arresting journalists for expressing their opinions is an attack on the free press. Political analysis and editorial writing are a part of a journalist’s work, not an act of terror,” said the statement, adding that laws like Sedition and UAPA should not be used on journalistic writings and pursuits.
DIGIPUB News India Foundation strongly believes that the UAPA and Sedition laws should not be used to counter journalistic writings and pursuits. If the state does not agree with a point of view published by a writer, they need to respond with arguments, a debate on the issue in question, and not arrest people.
The journalists were released after Chaoba in a letter to the police said, "I submit that it was an oversight from our part. There will be no such mistakes which will not pass on scrutiny in future."A copy of that letter was later given to Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren by a delegation of journalists at his office, some of whom also signed the letter as witnesses, the Wire reported.