¿No media zone¿ on Burma border

BY nava t| IN Media Practice | 18/07/2006
The 24 Assam Rifles prevented local reporters assigned to cover counter insurgency operation in the state from entering

Nava Thakuria 

The Moreh trade center in Indo-Burma border area (in the northeastern state of Manipur) has been made a  `no media zone` by the security personnel. The local reporters (mostly representing Manipur based newspapers and a local cable channel)   were prevented by the 24 Assam Rifles, assigned to cover counter insurgency operation in the state, from  entering the locality for reporting purposes. The local correspondents were quick to hit back boycotting all Assam Rifles programmes till the `higher authorities of the Army assured` that such restrictions would not be imposed on media persons in future. 

In fact, the Moreh trade center witnessed a messy situation in the last few days, following the killing of a security personnel belong to Assam Rifles by a Manipur-based armed group. To retaliate, the Assam Rifles personnel on Sunday allegedly vandalized the market on the Indian side. The men in uniform not only physically assaulted the traders, but also forced the shopkeepers to shut down the market.  

"The Assam Rifles personnel with Manipur police arrived in the Moreh (gate no 2) market and started questioning some traders. During interrogation, the uniformed men physically assaulted other people also," said an eye witness to the correspondent. The incident was followed by immediate protest by a group of women. Demonstrating in front of the   police station, the women demanded appropriate actions against the security personnel involved in the episode.  

It may be mentioned that the cadres of the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF) killed an Assam Rifles   jawan named Tuk Bahadur Pun on July 13. The jawan was on duty in the market area, where the militants detonated an  ambush resulting the assassination of the personnel. The agitating women under the banner of All Moreh Apunba Meira Paibi Lup later called for a bandh in Moreh. "The bandh will continue until the issue is resolved," said an office bearer of the women`s organization.  

The local reporters with the representatives of the Information Service Television were rushed to the locality in the Sunday morning, but they were stopped by the security personnel there on duty. Even one of the personnel used slang language to the reporters and also threatened to beat them up.    

The All Manipur Working Journalists` Union (AMWJU ) strongly condemned the attitude of the Assam Rifles that prevented media persons from covering the incident. Speaking to the correspondent from Imphal, the AMWJU president Bijoy Kakchingtabam reiterated their demand for public apology from the security personnel involved in the incident.  

Meanwhile the Moreh based newspaper correspondents has decided to boycott all the functions and programmes organized by the Assam Rifles.









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