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Preserving Press Freedom: Upholding Democracy in Manipur

by Editorial Team
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Preserving Press Freedom: Upholding Democracy in Manipur

In any democratic society, press freedom stands as a cornerstone, a beacon illuminating the path towards transparency, accountability, and justice. Yet, in Manipur, the very essence of this fundamental right is under threat, besieged by a barrage of defamation cases, threats – both physical and otherwise – and a systematic campaign to muzzle the voices of journalists. Such egregious actions not only undermine the invaluable role of the press in a democracy but also pose a grave threat to the fabric of society itself.
Journalists, the vanguards of truth, wield their pens as swords, fearlessly venturing into the realms of investigative journalism to unearth the concealed truths and hold the powerful accountable. However, in Manipur, their noble pursuit is met with hostility and intimidation. Defamation cases, often frivolously filed by those in positions of authority, serve as potent weapons wielded to silence dissent and stifle scrutiny. These legal battles not only drain the financial resources of journalists but also cast a chilling effect on the entire media fraternity, instilling fear and self-censorship.
The threats faced by journalists in Manipur extend far beyond the courtroom. Physical assaults, intimidation tactics, and even targeted killings have become grim realities in their line of work. Such brazen acts of violence not only inflict physical harm but also strike at the very heart of democracy, shrouding society in an ominous veil of fear and coercion. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes operate with impunity, emboldened by the lack of accountability and justice.
Furthermore, the erosion of press freedom in Manipur is exacerbated by the blatant disregard for the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Government officials, instead of embracing transparency and accountability, resort to legal loopholes and bureaucratic hurdles to evade public scrutiny. The reluctance to respond to RTI queries reflects a systemic aversion to accountability, a betrayal of the public trust, and a flagrant violation of democratic principles. By obstructing access to information, the government officials perpetuate a culture of secrecy and opacity, impeding the public’s right to know and undermining the foundations of democracy.
It is imperative to condemn unequivocally these assaults on press freedom in Manipur. The freedom of the press is not a privilege bestowed upon journalists; it is an inalienable right enshrined in the very fabric of democracy. When journalists are silenced, when their pens are shackled, the voice of the people is stifled, and the pillars of democracy crumble.
Fostering a culture of transparency and accountability within government institutions is paramount. The preservation of press freedom in Manipur is not merely a matter of journalistic integrity; it is a litmus test for the resilience of democracy itself. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders – journalists, civil society, government, and citizens – to stand united in defense of this fundamental right. Only through collective action and unwavering resolve can Manipur aspire towards a future where the press remains free, the truth remains sacrosanct, and democracy remains vibrant.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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