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Why the uproar against Manipur media?

Finally the wind seems to be settled. When it comes about the sanctity of journalism profession none get away, all comes together to protect it. Saying so it is better that we in the media community needs to dissects what went wrong, what prompted us to sit together to discuss issues which seems to malign our image. Well some of the recap with views from the ousiders.
Yesterday , a leading newspaper of Imphal, in its editorial lamented that some mainstream media houses are facing “extremely unsavoury comments and observations” in the social media. The article questions “why target the media.”
From the part of the outsider, who wish to see Manipur’s media expecting more for the people- the  All Manipur Working Journalist Union, which is an apex media body, has done some unholy things in the matter. As per his opinion - the answers, for the uproar will be found in the things the journalists’ body has donee till now. Three things needed to mention -
First, AMWJU in a statement released on the 3rd of December states “it doesn’t stand with any criminal-minded and mentally unsound person who acts and talks in the most uncivilised manner in an inebriated condition.” AMWJU has no authority to claim that a person is either criminal-minded or mentally unsound. These words prejudice Wangkhemcha in the public domain. Again, we must understand that being a criminal and being mentally unsound do not go hand in hand.
Second, AMWJU’s president wrote a letter to  Indian Journalist Union (IJU). It surfaced on the 21st of December in various media outlets. It writes that Wangkhemcha’s detention under NSA is a “non-issue.” It adds that “nobody wants to waste time talking about it, leave alone lifting a finger for him except a few people of his like…” Furthermore, it is only “one or two self-isolated [editors] from the mainstream” who are interested in creating a “media hype” in the matter. However, most of the mainstream media houses in Manipur are not in favour of “creating a media hype” and “the issues of NSA detention must be fought legally.” The letter accepts that there is a conscious toning down of the matter in Manipur’s mainstream media. His letter to IJU agrees with the general allegation circulating in the social media that nobody is talking about Wangkemcha’s NSA case. He exposes his politics when he overtly considers the use of draconian NSA a “non-issue,” especially when there is a general outcry against such draconian acts. Furthermore, in a press release on the 22nd of December, AMWJU’s standing committee declares that it collectively stands behind the content of his letter to IJU. Even if AMWJU’s leadership considers it a “non-issue,” Indian Journalist Union, Press Council of India and all rational souls must find it as a massive issue given the history of Wangkhemcha’s case and the seriousness of the charges, first sedition and now NSA.
Third, AMWJU’s standing committee in the 22nd of December statement informed that it fully supports the content of its letter to IJU. So, AMWJU’s standing committee calls the matter a “non-issue.” However, it also condemns the preventive detention of Wangkhemcha under NSA in the same press release. For AMWJU’s standing committee, it seems the matter is both condemnable and at the same times a “non-issue.” The press release again states that individuals who are mocking AMWJU in social media platforms in Wangkhemcha’s matter should come to its office within three days. Otherwise, it will take legal action against those individuals. It is unheard that a body of journalists is calling people to its office for mocking it. Furthermore, what sort of legal action could be taken for mocking AMWJU, for calling it shameless, wasted or jockers? Is it going to be more draconian acts? Is it going to be defamation suits which people in power usually file against journalists in Manipur?  It should be a matter of public debate.
These are probably reasons behind the general uproar against the mainstream media. On the 25th of December, AMWJU held a special general body meeting to rectify its position on the arrest of Wangkhemcha and the content of the letter its president has sent to IJU. It has now vehemently condemned the detention of Wangkhemcha under NSA. One must appreciate this development in Wangkhemcha’s case. Better late than never. However, it must be remembered that things might have been different for Wangkhemcha if AMWJU had taken this stand immediately after that arrest of Wangkhemcha under sedition laws. It would have saved all of us a public heartache.
Writer :- Michael Samjetsabam

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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