The Foundations for Media Professionals (FMP) on Wednesday issued statement on the charge leveled against local journalist, Grace Jajo by the Manipur Legislative Assembly Secretariat, with breach of privilege for sharing a link to a news report on her Facebook handle.
TFM in the press statement said that the Manipur state government has been building a steady reputation at a national level for its quite astonishing use of state power to curb criticism, however faint.
A journalist, Kishorchandra Wangkhem, has been charged with sedition multiple times for social
media posts. Most recently he spent three months in jail for a Facebook post drawing attention to a spat on Instagram between the wife and girlfriend of a minister, it said.
The Frontier Manipur (TFM) on February 20, offered explanation on breach of privilege and contempt of House notice for a news item published on February 17, headlined “State has no say regarding AFSPA, it is under the purview of union govt, says CM Biren”, wherein the Manipur Legislative Assembly Secretariat charged TFM with breach of privilege.
Following Grace Jajo’s sharing the article link with a personal remark “Drama from the assembly,” the assembly security physically prevented Grace Jajo from entering the assembly and consequently revoked her Assembly pass. The official statement issued by Manipur Legislative Assembly on February 23, according to Rules of Procedure of Conduct of Business in Manipur Legislative Assemby called Grace Jajo’s act “amounts to demeaning the process taken up by the Assembly Secretariat.”
FMP pointed out that the report by the government’s own press release, has somehow been construed as a breach of privilege, and sharing the explanation submitted to the assembly has been viewed as a further breach,” concerning Grace Jajo and The Frontier Manipur news portal, an emerging investigative news outlet.
The press statement further observed that invoking breach of privilege for the word used, in this case “drama”, which FMP interpreted it could have multiple meanings in the dictionary, said no “free press or democracy can survive such hyper-sensitivity”.
FMP called upon media organisations everywhere to consider the issues raised by this case, and the series of sedition cases for social media posts that preceded it in Manipur and elsewhere. It further added the recent Delhi court observation on Disha Ravi’s, the young environmental activist “The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of governments”. Underscoring that the offence of breach of privilege will not be invoked for similar reasons for Grace Jajo and TFM.
The Foundations for Media Professionals champions causes that have a vital bearing on the professionalism of journalists.