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Manipur media decry NIA ‘directive’ on news about May 22 ambush

Chaoba said that newspapers on May 27 carried a news-item based on a press release issued by an outfit called CorCom claiming responsibility for the incident.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
May 30, 2016 8:06:43 pm
manipur, manipur ambush, manipur media, Manipur, Manipur media NIA, NIA, manipur 22 may ambush, National Investigation Agency, india news Chandel district in Manipur. (Source: Google Maps)

The media in Manipur have complained of harassment meted out to the editors of the state by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with a news item published in connection with an ambush carried out by a rebel group in Chandel district on May 22 which had left six army personnel dead.

“The NIA is unnecessarily harassing the editors and newspapers of the state by issuing a directive seeking certain information in connection with a press release issued by a rebel group that had claimed responsibility of the May 22 ambush. The NIA has no business to issue any direction to the media. Its ‘direction’ to the media is a clear transgression of the rights and freedom of the media,” Paojel Chaoba, a standing committee member of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) said over telephone from Imphal on Monday.

Chaoba said while six army personnel were killed in a militant attack in Chandel district on May 22, newspapers on May 27 carried a news-item based on a press release issued by an outfit called CorCom claiming responsibility for the incident.

“The media only carried the information about the outfit’s claim. It does not amount to giving publicity to the outfit. But the way the NIA has sent out orders and directions is nothing but infringement on the freedom of the media, amounting to harassment,” Chaoba said.

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The NIA’s “order” signed by an officer of the rank of an Inspector, had through a letter, hand-delivered to several newspaper editors of Imphal on May 27. It “directed” the editors to furnish copies of their respective newspapers carrying the press release, soft-copy of a photograph issued by the militant group, as also the “e-mail header” by 4 pm on the same day.

“The media do not work under the NIA. The letter an Inspector issued amounts to issuing summons to the editors, which is nothing but gross disrespect to the fourth estate. We are taking up the matter with the Press Council of India,” Chaoba, speaking on behalf of the AMWJU said.

Meanwhile, Imphal-based newspaper editors, under the banner of Editors’ Guild of Manipur (EGM) have decided not to yield to any pressure from the NIA which has demanded that they share the source of press release issued by an underground group as also some other details.

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