Editors Guild writes to Assam CM on attacks on journalists, seeks intervention
The Editor’s Guild, on Wednesday, wrote to the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal about the growing incidences of violence against journalists in the state
The Editor’s Guild, on Wednesday, wrote to the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal about the growing incidences of violence against journalists in the state. They sought the CM’s intervention to ensure journalists could report without fearing retribution from the criminal mafia.
The Editors Guild pointed out that journalists were subjected to mob attacks, intimidation, and threats, which vitiated the environment necessary for the functioning of an independent and vibrant media.
“While we appreciate your firm condemnation of these incidents, the situation demands your urgent intervention to assure the media that they are safe to report without fearing retribution from the criminal mafia. In the absence of that a sense of impunity could embolden attackers who may believe that they are above the law,” said the Guild in the statement.
The Guild highlighted the treatment meted out to two journalists. The letter stated that Milan Mahanta, 42, who writes for Asomiya Pratidin and Dainik Asom, was tied to a pole by five criminals and beaten mercilessly. A video of this assault has gone viral on social media. Mahanta, who has named the assailants, claimed that he was beaten up for his reportage against the Kamrup district gambling and land mafia.
The letter stated that this came close on the heels of the death of Parag Bhuyam, a journalist with Pratidin Time, who was overrun by a car near his home in Kakopathar. The Pratidin Time editor has alleged that Bhuyam was murdered for exposing corruption and illegal activities of the criminal nexus in the Kakopathar area.
Along with this letter, the Guild attached a list of 32 journalists who had been killed in Assam since 1981. The Guild alleged that investigations into most of these cases were shoddy and in many cases the culprits were roaming free and intimidating families of slain journalists. The Guild urged the state police to take necessary steps to rebuild confidence of journalists.
This letter has come soon after the resignation of Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim from the Editors Guild. She said the Guild was silent on the High Court ruling, which refused to quash an FIR against her and held her guilty of creating communal disharmony.