The International Federation of Journalists on Tuesday condemned the alleged assault on journalists in Manipur and asked the security forces not to target media workers and allow journalists to perform their duty unhindered and respect freedom of media
Indian Border Security Forces patrol the streets of Churachandpur as violence hit the northeastern Indian state of Manipur on May 9, 2023. Photo/AFP
The International Federation of Journalists on Tuesday condemned the alleged assault on journalists in Manipur and asked the security forces not to target media workers and allow journalists to perform their duty unhindered and respect freedom of media.
In a statement, the press freedom body said: “Violent assaults against journalists are deeply concerning. Freedom of expression is of utmost importance in times of unrest, and journalists must be able to work without fear of threats or attacks. The IFJ urged the Indian state and federal authorities to ensure all journalists working in conflict zones are safeguarded and allowed to work freely.”
Three journalists were physically assaulted by security forces in Manipur while covering unrest at New Checkon, Imphal on May 22, IFJ said. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, called on the authorities to ensure journalists are permitted to report without jeopardising their safety.
Two Mami TV reporters, Soram Inaoba and Nongthombam Johnson, and a journalist from news agency ANI, Brahmacharimayum Dayananda, were reporting on the ongoing unrest in Manipur on May 22 when they were assaulted by security forces, IFJ said. The journalists were stationed on a building that had been set alight in the New Checkon area of Imphal when security officers struck them with batons.
The officers alleged the three had pelted stones at one of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), however, the journalists claimed they were waving the drone away, as it had come too close to them.
Despite all three wearing press identification at the time of the attack, the security personnel beat the journalists, allegedly attempting to tear off their vests and beat them, the statement said. Inaoba and Johnson both suffered injuries to their heads during the attack, with all three sustaining other minor injuries. The journalists were treated at the local Remedy Hospital.
The assault has been condemned by journalist organisations and press freedom groups, including the IJU, the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU), the Editors’ Guild Manipur (EGM) and the Manipur Hills Journalists’ Union (MJHU), who demanded the suspension of the security persons involved in the assault within 48 hours.
The associations warned that media houses in Manipur would boycott all press releases, hand-outs and press conferences related to the central paramilitary forces and armed forces operating in Manipur if their calls for justice were not fulfilled. An apology has since been issued to the journalists.
Unrest has continued in Manipur since May 3, after violence broke out following a Tribal Solidarity March called by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) in which thousands participated. According to police reports, during the rally, participants clashed with non-tribals, with authorities imposing a curfew in eight districts of the state’s districts as violence spread. Mobile internet services were also suspended across the entire state.
The Indian Journalist Union said its president Geetartha Pathak and Secretary Sabina Inderjit have condemned the “assault on the journalists” and asked the security forces not to target journalists and allow journalists to do their duty unhindered and respect freedom of media.