Murder and kidnapping in Manipur

IN Media Freedom | 21/10/2002
Murder and kidnapping in Manipur


Murder and kidnapping in Manipur


His murder came five days after the kidnap of  two correspondents in Imphal for the daily paper The Hindu and the monthly Eastern Panorama respectively. 


The Hoot Desk


Things have been grim for some years now for journalists in Manipur but their plight escapes national attention most of the time. This month there has been a fresh wave of  violence. Armed men shot dead TV journalist Yambem Meghajit Singh in Imphal, in the state of Manipur, on 13 October, a few days after two other journalists had been kidnapped by a separatist group.

Singh, who worked on the audio-visual production company North East Vision¹s weekly programme, was killed after being tortured by armed men. His hands had been tied behind his back and his body was covered with bruises.  Colleagues suspected that one of the region¹s separatist groups had killed Singh, who also ran a shop selling semi-precious stones and was involved in the student movement.


The president of the Manipur Electronic Media Journalists¹ Union told Reporters Without Borders that Singh, who was the union¹s vice-president, had criticised separatist groups and local politicians on his programme and had also said he was going to investigate corruption in the state.

His murder came five days after the kidnap of journalists Iboyama Laithangbam and Ymnam Arun, correspondents in Imphal for the daily paper The Hindu and the monthly Eastern Panorama respectively.  They were on their way to the Manipur town of Moreh when they were seized by members of the separatist United Kuki Liberation Front, which complained about meagre coverage of their own activities in the media.  Both men were released three days later.

RSF also says that at least three media outlets, including the Imphal Free Press, got anonymous phone calls asking them to attend a secret press conference outside Imphal on 15 October.  No journalists turned up but so far no reprisals have occured. 


In another development, militants of the Isak-Muivah faction of the outlawed National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) summoned two newspaper editors to a rebel camp for publishing allegedly distorted reports about the group.


"Journalists in Manipur are caught between arm-twisting tactics by both underground groups and government forces, sparking off serious concerns about the freedom of the press,"  K. Bijoy Sharma, general secretary of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) told the Indo Asian News Service over telephone from the state capital Imphal: "We work with our
pen and the other side uses the gun. So naturally there is bound to be some amount of fear."




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