Quash the FIRs: Let organisations like Editors Guild do their work - The Tribune India

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Quash the FIRs

Let organisations like Editors Guild do their work

Quash the FIRs

Photo for representational purpose only. - iStock file photo



IN its report published on September 2, a three-member team of the Editors Guild of India that visited strife-torn Manipur criticised what it termed one-sided reporting by some media outlets. It claimed there were indications that the state leadership had turned partisan. The Internet ban was slammed as being detrimental to reportage. Accusing the fact-finding team of trying to provoke clashes, Chief Minister N Biren Singh called it anti-state, anti-national and anti-establishment. The Manipur Police registered an FIR against the three journalists and the guild president. They face charges of promoting enmity, inciting religious feelings, giving statements conducive to public mischief and criminal conspiracy. A second FIR had the additional charge of defamation. The Supreme Court has extended protection to the three against any coercive step till September 15.

A rebuttal of the findings is par for the course, but not the use of strong-arm tactics. It sets a dangerous precedent. In the interest of justice, freedom of the press and responsible journalism, the FIRs must be quashed. There is merit in the contention that it’s a case of shooting the messenger. At a time when Manipur needs measures that can help restore peace, intimidating an apex media body amounts to suppression of truth. Hope emanates from the Chief Justice of India’s oral remark on whether the publication of a subjective analysis by a group of journalists could be a ground for the registration of an FIR. The Editors Guild has claimed that the visit followed an alert from the Army, which wanted an ‘objective assessment’ on whether journalistic norms were being violated.

The ethnic clashes have left Manipur scarred. In such circumstances, the chances of bias impacting reportage are high. That’s where an organisation like the Editors Guild steps in. Let it do its work.

#Manipur


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