NEW DELHI/IMPHAL, 4 Aug: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has condemned the summoning and harassment of All Manipur Working Journalists Union President Wangkhemcha Shamjai by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over the past two days.
IJU President Geetartha Pathak joined the protest held by the AMWJU, the Editors Guild Manipur (EGM) and the Manipur Hill Journalists Union (MHIU) in Imphal, demanding that the NIA desist from such arbitrary actions against journalists and respect the freedom of the press.
Shamjai, a respected journalist, who is the editor-in-chief of the evening daily Kangleipakki Meira, was summoned by the NIA on 2 August to its office at 10 am with regard to investigations over alleged involvement of two other journalists aiding underground groups.
“Shamjai turned up on time, but to his utter surprise, was left in a small room without being interacted till one officer began interrogating him around noon. He was hurled with uncomfortable and unrelated queries in another room regarding underground groups. The interrogation went on till 5 pm and, according to Shamjai, he was also intimidated by the NIA sleuths the next day,” the IJU stated in a release.
Taking strong exception to the NIA’s arbitrary action, the AMWJU, the EGM and the MHJU convened an emergency meeting at the Manipur Press Club, and decided to stage a protest. They also submitted a memorandum to the governor and the chief minister, condemning the action and demanding that the media not be harassed till there is proof of any involvement, and that journalists be spared the harassment.
In a statement, IJU President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit said that “such harassment of president of AMWJU, an affiliate, is unacceptable in any democratic society.”
Expressing solidarity with the media organisations, the IJU said that the NIA’s actions “are a big challenge to functioning of the media and its independence,” and urged Manipur’s governor and the chief minister to look into the matter and take actions to ensure that the media is not further harassed by the NIA or any other investigating agency in the future.