| Journalists in hit-list take out rally, submit memorandum to CM
From our Special Correspondent
IMPHAL, Aug 12: The reporters and editors in Manipur who received death threats from some militant organizations today called it a day and took out a rally. They also submitted a memorandum to the impassive Chief Minister Okram Ibobi and the Home Minister G Gaikhangam whose syrupy tongue is well known. A general body meeting of the reporters and editors was held today at the press club to discuss regarding the grenade attack on Saturday night at the house of Ahongsangbam Mobi, president of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union.
Earlier the standing committee of the AMWJU had decided to cease work for the day. As a result the evening newspapers did not hit the stands. The morning newspapers shall not be coming out tomorrow. Narrating the death threat to him, Mobi said that last night he was alone at his residence located near the police station at Singjamei. Since his daughter is in the hospital all family members were with her.
Normally Mobi he stays outside and checks his email by lounging at the verandah. But that day he was inside the bed room. Had he stayed outside the bedroom he would have been killed.
He said at around 8:15 pm on Saturday night, a China made hand grenade was lobbed. It hit the tin roof and fell down at the court yard where it exploded with a deafening sound. Though the shrapnels had pockmarked the walls and some domestic items there was no human casualty. Immediately after the blast police rushed there. However, no arrest could be made. Editors and reporters also came to make inquiries.
During the general body meeting several speakers condemned the dastardly attack on the president. It may be recalled that some days back one faction of the Military Defence Force had served death notice to seven editors. The editors had refused to publish the press releases of this outfit at the directive of the AMWJU. Mobi is the president and editor of the Sanaleibak. Some days ago the outfit had phoned some newspaper offices to say that bombs had been planted in the offices of the Naharoligi Thoudang and Hueiyen Lanpao. However the police bomb experts did not find any bomb. But the police did not take any chances. Village Defence Force personnel were deloyed in the newspaper offices.
The editors and reporters did not attend office but held the general body meeting, took out a rally and submitted memorandum to the Chief Minister and the Home Minister. There are four demands of the reporters. They said that the editors and reporters should be provided enough security so that they could discharge their duty fearlessly. Adequate security should be deployed in the houses of the editors and the office bearers of the AMWJU. It is a known fact that guarding the press offices is meaningless since the editors and reporters have to return home well after midnight and all of them would become sitting ducks. The armed VDF personnel should be replaced by the well trained police personnel. An inquiry should be ordered to establish the collaborators, if any, in the fresh attacks. Because it sounds rather incomprehensible that some armed members of little known outfits have been flexing muscles so effectively in and around Imphal. This is despite the police claim that ahead of the independence day functions the security measures have been beefed up in the state.
Both the Chief Minister and the Home Minister has assured the representatives of the AMWJU that no stone would be left unturned to round up the militants who are thus attacking the reporters in this manner. They also said that an inquiry would be ordered to satisfy the reporters since they also cannot undersand how the militants are so active now. The Home Minister had already instructed Y Joykumar, the DGP to make the necessary inquiry.
Both the ministers assured that the VDF personnel would be replaced by police personnel. Patrolling would be intensified in all trouble prone areas. But then past experience has shown that such security measures had failed to protect some editors and reporters who were gunned down, hurt in attack. Mobi exhorted the reporters not to bend at the threat of the militants. He said that this morning he received one SMS from the militant organization asking him not to organize the rally. If he ignored it he would be attacked once again. Despite this kind of threat he said that the reporters should go ahead with serving the people.
The editors and reporters who took out the procession from the press club to the residences of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister carried hand written placards condemning the grenade attack and asking the militants to allow the reporters to discharge their duty.
Most of the editors whose names had been identified by the militant outfit are not normally seen in the offices and residences. Their mobile numbers are either switched off or had been discarded. They talk to some friends only from the mobile phones of some reporters. It is impossible to seek an interview of these editors.