The All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) has decided that the print and electronic media spike news about and press releases from two underground Muslim outfits which have threatened to kill its president and other journalists.
An emergency meeting of the AMWJU — consisting of editors, journalists and newspaper distributors — and the Editors Forum Manipur here on Saturday night condemned the threats by the outfits which insisted on newspapers publishing their statements without fail.
It was on the AMWJU’s advice that newspapers did not publish press releases of the People's United Liberation Front (P.M. Akber faction). Union president A. Mobi said he and the editors had been under pressure from this faction to have its press releases published. When the AMWJU refused to budge, the editors were told they could not bring out the newspapers and a threat was held out that editors, journalists and newspaper distributors would be gunned down.
In identical language, a new Muslim underground organisation has also issued threats, demanding that its press releases be published verbatim.
The threats are not being taken lightly for, in the past, four editors and two journalists were killed and some others sustained life-threatening gunshot injuries.
However, the AMWJU’s policy is not to entertain press releases from the mushrooming underground organisations.
Reaffirming the stand of the AMWJU and the editors, Mr. Mobi said some elements were misusing newspapers as their noticeboards. In the past, soon after the publication of press releases, some underground outfits would send extortion letters to high officials and affluent people. Some time ago, two newspaper offices were attacked with hand grenades for refusing to publish press releases. One journalist, who was returning home late in the night, was attacked by pistol-wielding elements but he escaped providentially.
Following these incidents, armed police guards were deployed in all newspaper offices in Imphal.