Checking the statements of UG outfits:
Media always the soft target
The media is always the soft target. And mind you, it is not of the recent past. What did the State Government do when the media houses were attacked ? Or is it a case of the media houses not formally reporting the matter to the State Government ? Whatever the case may be, the recent instruction from the State police to the Editors to take a relook at the statements issued by the underground organisations is food for thought. This is probably the second such instructions issued to the media by the State police and while this is a new development, one cannot help but ask why things have come to such a pass. Other than the compelling reasons why media houses feel constrained to carry the statements issued by the underground outfits, this should also tell a significant story of how the police have totally failed to rein in the armed groups, who all operate under some high sounding philosophies. Other than curbing the media houses from publishing the statements issued by the underground organisations, it would do good for the political leaders of the State to seriously study why things have come to such a pass. Publicity, this is what underground outfits want and this is what the Army and the para military forces want too. No wonder the Army has a public relations office here in Imphal and they come under the Press Information Bureau of the Defence Wing. Even the State police has a Public Relations Officer and one can understand why these offices have been opened.
The role of the media. This is what is important to understand. If only the Government had taken the trouble of checking or studying under what circumstances the media in Manipur have had to work, then it would not have issued such a blanket instruction to all the Editors of Manipur. In N Biren, Manipur has a Chief Minister who has come with a background from the media and this is something which he would not have forgotten. Editing a vernacular daily, the Chief Minister must know under what circumstances the newspapers in Manipur work or function. Or if this is a case of the media giving undue publicity to underground outfits, then it is the job of the Government to seriously study how and when the reach and influence of the armed groups grew by so much bounds. It is also important for the Government to study why the numerous underground outfits place so much more importance on the vernacular dailies. As long as the movement continues, the media in Manipur will be at the receiving end of pressures to publish what these armed groups want to say and freedom of the press ought to be understood while viewing the statements published in the newspapers and carried in the local TV channels. It is also time for the various armed groups to sit back and understand under what laws the media in Manipur function. Good for all to remember that all newspapers in Manipur need to have an RNI.