Revoke FIR Against Editors' Guild, Says DUJ
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has strongly condemned the filing of an FIR against the Editors' Guild of India (EGI) in Manipur.
Calling it an exercise in shooting the messenger, the journalists' body demands that the FIR be immediately revoked.
The FIR was filed by Imphal police for EGI's fact-finding report on the Manipur violence. The report highlighted the biased coverage of the ongoing ethnic conflicts by media organisations in Manipur. The FIR has been filed against the three-member team that visited Manipur for fact-finding. The members include Seema Guha, Sanjay Kapoor and Bharat Bhushan.
Additionally, the Imphal police have also included Seema Mustafa, President of EGI, in the FIR.
"The FIR has been filed in response to a complaint by a local "social worker" who accuses the Guild of bias and challenges many statements made in the report. Multiple sections of the IPC have been unleashed with the intention to harass, intimidate and possibly punish the fact-finding team and the head of the Guild. Section 66 A of the IT Act, too, has been invoked, although this Section was struck down by the Supreme Court years ago," DUJ said in its statement.
Furthermore, the complainant has also called the EGI report "false, fabricated and motivated," citing an inaccurate photo caption, which the EGI has since corrected.
"It questions the Guild's reportage of statements by a former police officer regarding connections between drug smugglers and the Chief Minister. It defends the state government's policies regarding drugs, forestry, migration from Myanmar and other issues. The complaint uses intemperate language and accuses the Guild report of misrepresenting facts to exacerbate hostility between communities and bring down the elected government."
DUJ points out that EGI is a "prestigious institution comprising many of the leading journalists in the country." The three-member team included neutral observers, which makes the accusation of bias absurd.
"The Guild's 24-page report, besides providing an overview of the conflict, actually provides useful insights into the role of the Manipur media in reporting the conflict. It points to the asymmetry between the dominant Imphal-based media, which largely reflects the Meitei perspective, and the almost negligible hill-based media, which reflects the Kuki Zo and Naga viewpoint."
Additionally, as per DUJ, the EGI report points out how the Imphal media faced huge social pressure to report "only the Meitei view."
"It observes that the media failed in its duty to counter the vilification of the security forces, particularly the Assam Rifles, which was tasked with controlling the conflict and had rescued many people."
Furthermore, the EGI report notes how the situation worsened due to the internet shutdown, as the reporters in the hills could not send news to their Imphal-based news outlets, making it harder for the latter to maintain balanced coverage.
"The report makes strong observations on the 100 plus days Internet ban, pointing out that the Supreme Court has ruled in the Anuradha Bhasin case that bans longer than 15 days must not be imposed," DUJ said.
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