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Impositions on information

Finally it has come down to this: for those of us who endeavoured to present the different sides of the same coin which, in all honesty, would have made for a more engaging and transparent society inasmuch as the news and the opinions together with the claims and counterclaims from diametrically opposite sides of the social spectrum that has been churned up, the dreaded gag has been brandished once again. Sad to say that the Damocles sword still hangs large over the journalistic fraternity of the state who are slogging day in and day out to present a balanced and impersonal view of the present social scenario to the public who will ultimately draw up an informed judgment of the powers that be at present. The foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed, and therein lies the purpose of journalism: to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies and their government.
Cut to the present: numerous disgruntled ‘proscribed’ groups who have taken up arms to reinforce their claims are holding sway in the society and the general public, caught up as they are in the daily grind to make ends meet are left to fend for themselves given the most volatile and delicate nature of the society at present. While the state administrators claimed an improved law and order situation, the ground reality tells a different story. Those who are at the wrong end of the barrel still bear the brunt of the ire and whims of those whose itchy fingers controls the trigger.
This is the most crucial time when ideas and ideologies of both the conflicting sides need to be told for the general public to discuss and contemplate over. And the only party that can and does convey the unabridged versions of the parties on the extreme ends happened to be the journalists whose lives have been put to risks and tests with occasionally unfortunate conclusions. The right to free and open access to news and information should be universal, but threats to the press clearly persists, and it is rather unfortunate that the state government headed by a former journalist allows such obnoxious and high-handed treatment to be meted out to the press for as routine a thing as carrying a press release from one of the numerous proscribed armed groups in the state.
Freedom of the press is a prerequisite to the fulfillment of democratic ideologies. It is the press that upholds the freedom of self-assertion of its citizens and any attempts at suppressing or restricting its bounden duty by any force will only result in undesirable consequences.

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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