Imphal, August 05:
Except for one vernacular newspaper and government-owned media, all media houses in the state of Manipur stopped publications and broadcasting for a day as journalists ceased work and staged protests against the harassment of the president of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU), W. Shamjai by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday.
Members of AMWJU, Hill Journalists’ Union, and other district-affiliated journalists’ bodies have condemned the act of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Union and wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Governor La Ganesan, the Press Council of India (PCI), and the Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU), expressing ‘strong resentment on such treatment meted out to Shamjai.
W. Shamjai was summoned to the NIA office at 10 am on August 2, 2022. He was again summoned to the NIA Office at Lamphel here in Imphal on August 4, 2022 again when journalists in the state were staging a protest at Keishampat Leimajam Leikai Community Hall. Shamjai said that, on the first day, he was left alone in a room till around 12 noon when an official began interrogating him.
The Indian Journalists Union has condemned the summoning and harassment of the President of All Manipur Working Journalists Union, Wangkhemcha Shamjai by the National Investigation Agency over past two days.
The IJU President Geetartha Pathak joined the protest held by AMWJU, Editors Guild Manipur (EGM) and Manipur Hill Journalists Union (MHIU) in Imphal demanding that the NIA desist from such arbitrary actions against journalists and respect the freedom of the press.
The President of the AMWJU W. Shamjai said he was then hurled ‘with uncomfortable and unrelated queries’ in another room. Shamjai also alleges that he was also intimidated by NIA sleuths, who continued the interrogation until 5 pm in the afternoon.
Terming the alleged ‘excesses’ of the NIA as an ‘insult’, the scribe bodies urged Home Minister Shah and Ganesan to ‘take necessary action to ensure that the media fraternity is not harassed by the NIA or any other investigating agencies in the future.’
In a statement, IJU President and former member of Press Council Geetartha Pathak and Sabina Inderjit, IJU Secretary General, who is also Vice President of IFJ and President, Federation of Asia Pacific Journalists Association, said such harassment of President of AMWJU, an affiliate, is unacceptable in any democratic society. Expressing solidarity with the media organisations, the IJU said NIA’s actions are a big challenge to the functioning of the media and its independence. It joined them in urging the Governor and Chief Minister to look into the matter and take necessary actions to ensure the media fraternity is not further harassed by the NIA or any other investigating agencies in the future.