New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India, Executive Committee issued a press statement today expressing deep concern over the recent registration of First Information Reports (FIRs) by the Manipur Police against the Guild’s President and members of a fact-finding team. The team conducted a study in Manipur to assess media coverage of ethnic clashes in the state.
The Guild’s fact-finding mission, initiated in response to concerns raised by civil society and the Indian Army, focused on allegations that Manipur’s media was taking a biased stance in the ongoing ethnic conflict between the majority Meitei community and the Kuki-Chin minority. The three-member team, dispatched to Manipur, engaged with various stakeholders, including reporters, editors, representatives of the Editors Guild of Manipur, All Manipur Working Journalists Union, civil society activists, public intellectuals, affected women, tribal spokespeople, and security forces operating in Manipur, said EGI.
Further, EGI said the comprehensive report, which was made public on September 2, 2023, aimed to encourage self-reflection within the media amidst the sensitive conflict situation. The Guild promptly acknowledged and rectified an error in a photo caption, demonstrating its commitment to accuracy.
However, the Guild said it is deeply troubled by the Manipur state government’s response, which includes invoking multiple provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) through the registration of FIRs. While the Guild remains open to further discussions, the Guild finds Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s characterization of the journalist body as “anti-State” and “anti-national” deeply concerning.
This development is especially disheartening in light of the upcoming G20 summit, where the Union Government has been emphasizing India’s democratic credentials and commitment to freedom of speech on the global stage, it added.
The Editors Guild of India calls upon the state government to reconsider its actions and close the FIRs, allowing for a constructive dialogue to address the concerns raised in the report.