The Mirror of Manipur || Fast, Factual and Fearless.

Media watchdogs condemn Tripura police’s intimidation of journalists


“In a country where the media are considered the fourth pillar of democracy, journalists must be allowed to hold the government to account without fear of intimidation and punitive action”.

TFM Desk

Media watchdogs have come down heavily on the intimidation of two journalists by Tripura police and demanded to withdraw the FIR lodged against them. They were reportedly arrested in connection with the recent violence in the state.

Tripura police invoked Indian Penal Code charges under sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, provocation with intent to cause riot, and intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, against two reporters — Samruddhi Sakunia (21) and Swarna Jha (25), according to the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP).

“Both these brave young women have been reporting from Tripura on the recent incidents of communal trouble there. They have thus rendered a public service to Indian democracy by bringing to light issues from a far-flung and largely forgotten corner of India, for which they should be commended,” the media watchdog said in a statement on Sunday.

Stating that the Tripura police had earlier filed cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against 70 people including a journalist, Shyam Meera Singh, who merely tweeted “Tripura is burning”, FMP added that in the present instance, it has filed the FIR on a complaint that alleges that the two journalists, by their reporting, are maligning the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal by connecting those organisations to an attack on a mosque, thus damaging communal harmony.

“India’s rank in the World Press Freedom Index 2021 is at 142 in the world, behind actual dictatorships such as Myanmar. Cases of police action against journalists whose reportage contradicts government versions have become all too common”.

The point of a free media is to bring to light problems and issues that may otherwise escape the notice of responsible authorities, so that timely and corrective action may be taken. However now the bringing of any ‘negative’ issues to light is increasingly seen as a crime in India, with only public relations flattery being welcomed by the authorities, it added.

“This is a danger not only to the press but also to governance and Indian democracy. We call upon the Tripura Police to withdraw the FIR against Sakunia and Jha”.

Meanwhile, Digipub News India Foundation also condemned in the strongest terms the sustained pattern of intimidation against journalists of HW News Network.

“Sakunia said the police arrived at their hotel at around 10.30 PM on 13 November 2021 and served the FIR copy at around 5.30 AM the next morning. They were not allowed to move out until 9 AM on 14 November 2021, despite cooperating with the police. About 16-17 police personnel were deployed outside their hotel in Dharmanagar in north Tripura District. The journalists were released later on 14 November and have been asked to be present at the Fatikroy police station on November 21,” a release by the media watchdog stated.

Digipub strongly deplored the harassment of the two journalists by the Tripura police who “invaded their privacy by showing up at their hotel and demanding their Aadhaar numbers and transport details, ostensibly to provide “security”, a contention that soon turned out to be false”. This is not only a violation of the freedom of the press but also a breach of the fundamental right to privacy, it asserted.

Stating that it was not the first time that journalists have been intimidated for doing their jobs in this country, Digipub maintained that many journalists face criminal investigations, arrest and jail terms, as India faces a “sharp degradation in press freedom”.

“In a country where the media are considered the fourth pillar of democracy, journalists must be allowed to hold the government to account without fear of intimidation and punitive action”.

You might also like
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.