AMWJU celebrates 49 years of existence, launches official websiteProgrammes lined up for year long golden jubilee celebration


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By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Sep 16 : The All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) observed its 49th foundation day with a simple function at the Manipur Press Club this morning.
Thounaojam Tarun-kumar, former president of AMWJU; Keisham Shyam-kishore, founder member of AMWJU; Khogendro Khomdram, president Editors' Guild Manipur (EGM) and Bijoy Kakchingtabam, president AMWJU attended the observance as presidium members.
The dignitaries (except EGM president Khogendro Khomdra who could not reach in time due to some inconveniences) led AMWJU functionaries and members in paying floral tributes to the deceased founding members of the union and scribes before the main function began at 10 am.
The main function began with vice president of the AMWJU, Raj Nongthom-bam formally welcoming the dignitaries and introducing the positives of the union which completed 49 years of existence and journalistic service to the people of Manipur.
Speaking on the occasion, guest of honour and the only living founding member of the union from Manipur, Keisham Shyamkishore recalled the founding of the AMWJU in a small hotel room in Paona Bazar on September 16, 1974 amidst growing pressure groups and political parties.
The independence of journalists and their rights were constantly facing challenges during the period.
Thus, the journalists of the time had to join forces and formed the union in association with renowned journalists from major Indian publications based in Manipur, he said.
Being in a conflict zone, challenges continued to persist but the union gave its best to stay above it. It has now completed its journey of 49 years, he said while looking forward to a positive year ahead.
Paying tributes to the deceased fellow journalists and others in the fraternity, he also extended best wishes to the future endeavours of the union.
 EGM president and the Editor of The Sangai Express, Khogendra Khomdram who attended as guest of honour, maintained that the union has come a long way in delivering journalistic services to the people of Manipur.
Noting the past and present challenges faced by the journalists, he also praised the forebearers of the union for the immense contributions towards the society and the union with their impeccable wisdom and work.
Chief guest of the function and former president of AMWJU, Thounaojam Tarunkumar expressed gratitude to the union for honouring him with the invitation.
Referring to the crisis at hand and the negative image of Manipur that has been painted in mainland India, Tarunkumar said he was eager to listen to first hand reports of the happenings in the State as he had been away for long.
He also stressed on the importance of the collective stance of journalists in dealing with the present challenges with a clear perspective.
Noting the complexities faced by journalists, he said the concept of Manipur is very complex in nature and journalists often find themselves in the labyrinth between identity and work.
He said he was deeply pained by the allegation of the media establishments as "Meitei-centric media" while the National media have been overwhelmed by communal viewpoints which challenges the concept of Manipur.
The idea of Manipur has never been static, it has been evolving encompassing all the communities. But despite the long shared cordiality and co-existence, some communities did not hesitate to take the hostile path and challenge the idea of Manipur and even take the matter to world platforms, he said.
To face the challenges, to convince others of the ground reality, the State journalists have a huge task, he said. All should know how to respond to these challenges as a Meitei in the core and as a journalist on the field.
As prolonging violence would not be an viable idea and wiping out one another is not the solution, journalists should  stress further on fairer and objective reporting, not driven by passion and emotion and play the role of a reconciliatory bridge between the feuding communities.
Saying that journalists can surely act as troubleshooters to end the unprecedented crisis the State has witnessed and bring peace, he also encouraged the State journalists to be more responsible and play a key role to help avert similar tragic incidents in the future.
Calling for a firm stance against 'rogue' MLAs who have been playing with sentiments of the people to push their separatist agendas, he also called upon journalists to fully support and comply with the judicial commission set up to probe the Manipur violence.
Following the insightful speech from the chief guest, a one minute silence was also observed as a mark of respect to deceased State journalists.
The chief guest of the function later launched the official website of AMWJU.
AMWJU president Bijoy Kakchingtabam who was presiding the function thanked the dignitaires, family members of the deceased journalists, members attending the function.
He also announced a series of programmes comprising lecture programmes, workshops and seminars for the journalists in line with the year-long golden jubilee celebration.
Seeking collective and active participation in the year-long events which will hopefully enrich the journalists, he also called upon all present to help keep the integrity of the State intact.
He also said that a souvenir reflecting the achievements of AMWJU and its contributions to society will be released shortly.
Later, veteran journalists, family members of the deceased journalists were also honoured with mementos and scarves.