Vinay Kumar

NEW DELHI: The Editors Guild of India on Thursday condemned the coercionary statements of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) against the editors of two Assam dailies and termed it a serious assault on the freedom of the press.

The ULFA's "advice" to Kanakasen Deka, Editor, Dainik Agradoot and D.N. Chakravarty, Editor, Dainik Asam, to quit journalism "is totally unacceptable and is an expression of intolerance," the Editors Guild said.

"The demand on the editors is a crude attempt to gag the press in Assam," Editors Guild president Alok Mehta and secretary-general K.S. Sachidananda Murthy said in a statement here.

While upholding the right of editors to freely express their opinion, the Guild said there should be no pressure on editors from governmental or non-governmental sources. It called upon editors and journalists in Assam to function fearlessly and extended its support to their right to practice journalism amidst the pressure tactics of those intolerant of a free press.

The Guild said it expected the government and the civil society to extend protection to the editors and journalists of Dainik Agradoot and Dainik Asam to carry out their journalistic functions without any obstacle or threat.

In a related development, the North-East Television, the only private news and entertainment channel in the northeast, has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to the threat it had received from the ULFA, asking it to leave Assam.