PCI takes suo-motu cognizance on online threats to Arunachal Times journalist

NEW DELHI, May 19: The Press Council of India expressed its concern over threats of physical violence in several online posts to The Arunachal Times journalist Tongam Rina.
Taking suo-motu cognizance of the matter, a report on facts of the case has been called for by the PCI on 19 May from the Arunachal Pradesh chief secretary and the director general police.
A news article was published under the headline, ‘Wildlife hunting on spike, say forest officials’ in the 19th April edition where Tongam reported about the alleged rising instances of wildlife hunting in the state during the lockdown.
In the same report, under the sub-headline, ‘3 who killed king cobra identified’, Tongam reported that the state’s forest department had already identified the three men in the video and was looking to arrest them for violating the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
At the end of the third week of April, three video clips began circulating on WhatsApp, in two of which a man had claimed to have gone out hunting in search of meat because he could not find any since the lockdown began. Having failed to do so, the man himself said he found a snake.
In another video, the man and two others with him apologized to the authorities, saying that they do not consume snake meat on a regular basis, and that they did what they did because they had no food to eat.
Nowhere in the report had any allegation been made by the journalist, or any accusation of wrongdoing leveled, apart from mentioning what the men in the videos themselves claimed to have done.
Apart from the visually graphic memes that the burgeoning troll army of Arunachal had produced, Tongam had been threatened with physical violence on several posts online, some justifying the 2012 attempt on her life, when she had been shot for her reporting work, and instigating that she should be shot again for this latest report.
The Arunachal Press Club, the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists and the Arunachal Electronic & Digital Media Association had also expressed concern over the plethora of online attacks that a senior member of the press has been subjected to for her unbiased reporting.
The Indian Journalist Union had also expressed profound concern over the trolling of Tongam, and joined its colleagues in Arunachal in demanding legal action against the online abusers at the earliest.