Manipur govt files FIR against Editors Guild for ‘biased’ riots report

The Manipur BJP-led government has lodged an FIR against the Editors Guild of India (EGI) due to alleged baseless accusations in a fact-finding report

IMPHAL | Updated: 05 September, 2023 11:44 am IST
EGI released the Fact-Finding Mission Report on Media Coverage of Ethnic Violence in Manipur

IMPHAL: The BJP-led government in Manipur has filed an FIR against Editors Guild of India (EGI) over the latter’s “unfounded allegations” made in a fact-finding report, with CM N Biren Singh alleging that EGI’s actions will exacerbate the ethnic clashes.

The FIR has been filed against EGI president Seema Mustafa, editor of The Citizen, and three of its members.

More than 160 people have lost their lives, hundreds injured, thousands displaced since the ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

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Meanwhile, the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) and the Editors Guild Manipur (EGM) have rejected the EGI’s accusations, dismissing them as unfounded and driven by ulterior motives.

In a press release jointly signed by the heads of AMWJU and EGM, the two organizations have presented a compelling case, refuting the EGI’s claims made in what they dub the “Report of the fact-finding mission on media reportage of the Ethnic violence in Manipur,” released on September 2.

It highlights that EGI has disseminated erroneous information concerning the heinous act of parading Kuki women naked through Manipur’s streets by a mob of men, calling the report inconsistent, with references varying from two to three women in the same context.

 

Furthermore, it argues that the assertion of rape cannot be substantiated by a 28-second video, though it concedes that the video does reveal groping, which is condemnable in its own right. The guild, however, is accused of sensationalizing the tragic incident to fit its narrative.

AMWJU and EGM place the blame squarely on EGI for stoking religious conflict in a Manipur already ablaze with tensions. While EGI claims that Meitei women showed no remorse over the incident, the organizations contend that this characterization is not applicable to all, emphasizing that local women were the ones who came to the rescue, clothed the victims, and escorted them to a nearby security post. They accuse EGI of failing to conduct proper fact-checking before making sweeping allegations.

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While acknowledging shortcomings in their own reporting of events in the state, they attribute these issues to unavoidable obstacles, such as internet bans and restricted access to conflict areas.

In its report titled “Report of the fact-finding mission on media’s reportage of the ethnic violence in Manipur”, the EGI said it received a written complaint from the Indian Army’s 3rd Corps headquarters citing specific examples of the media in Manipur suggesting that it may be playing a “major role in arousing passion and not letting sustainable peace to come in”.

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