Coronavirus | No newspapers in Manipur, new year celebrations lacklustre

Newspaper distributors and paper boys are on strike after a wholesaler was allegedly beaten up in Bishnupur district on Monday morning

March 25, 2020 11:26 am | Updated 11:26 am IST - IMPHAL:

The people in Manipur woke up on Wednesday morning to find that there were no newspapers, particularly when people need information following the report that a 23-year-old girl was the first person to have contracted COVID-19 in the Northeast region.

This despite the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in a March 23 official letter, instructing all Chief Secretaries to ensure the operational continuity of electronic and print media in the face of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Manipuris celebrated the new year on Wednesday in a lacklustre manner. There were no green grocer, fish or meat seller and others with the result that no family could prepare five or six course lunch for the traditional lunches. They were also denied the traditional mountain climbing in the afternoon, with the health officials citing the possibility of infection from crowd.

Newspaper distributors and paper boys are on strike after a wholesaler was allegedly beaten up in Bishnupur district on Monday morning by a ranking police officer. It is alleged that the officer had seen the identity card of the distributor and ‘Press’ sticker in the van and yet he beat him up. Editors and publishers have reportedly started consulting one another and indications are that the publication of the newspapers may be suspended till an agreement is reached between the government and newspaper distributors.

The All India Radio, Imphal, has also suspended news in the FM frequency. The news broadcast in some local channels is also affected.

Officials said that absence of news could be one of the reasons why passengers of the March 21 Kolkata-Imphal Air Asia flight in which the Manipuri girl had travelled have not responded to the announcement by the health department to contact medical officials for testing.

Normal life continues to be disrupted in Manipur as a result of the total lockdown, with even pharmacies remaining closed and other essential service facilities being affected. On Wednesday a few pharmacies were open and there were long serpentine queues.

Chief Minister N. Biren said that curfew would continue for some time and urged the people to abide by the health advisories.

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