Manipur police files case against Editors Guild for ‘promoting enmity between different groups’

Manipur continues to burn - curfew and internet shutdown. It has been three months now. [Photo: Twitter/ Ashok Swain]

Imphal: Journalist organizations have strongly criticized the registration of an FIR against the president and three members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI).

This action came after the EGI published a report from its fact-finding committee on the media’s coverage of ethnic violence in Manipur. The journalist bodies have termed this action as “shooting the messenger” and have called for the immediate withdrawal of the FIR.

The Manipur Police filed the FIR against the EGI, accusing them of promoting enmity between two communities and other charges related to their report. Manipur’s Chief Minister, N Biren Singh, accused the EGI of trying to incite more clashes in the state.

Several journalist organizations, including the Press Club of India (PCI) and the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC), have demanded the withdrawal of the FIR. They argue that this action is an attempt to intimidate the country’s top media organization and that it undermines the principles of free press and democracy.

The EGI’s report on the media’s coverage of ethnic violence in Manipur pointed out various issues, including one-sided reporting by journalists, the impact of internet bans on communication among journalists, and the state government’s alleged partisan role in the ethnic conflict. The report also mentioned that the media in Manipur appeared to have adopted a common narrative, acting as “Meitei media.”

One of the reasons cited in the FIR was an erroneous caption for a photograph of a burning house. The EGI acknowledged the mistake and corrected it in the report.

The EGI report criticized the state government for promoting a narrow ethnic narrative during the conflict and suggested that the government was tacitly supporting vilification. It also indicated that the government failed to remain impartial in the ethnic conflict, which it should have done as a democratic government representing the entire state.

In summary, journalist organizations have condemned the registration of the FIR against the Editors Guild of India, arguing that it is an attack on press freedom and democracy. They call for the immediate withdrawal of the FIR and highlight the issues raised in the EGI’s report regarding media coverage of ethnic violence in Manipur.

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