Attacks on journalists in Assam: Editors Guild of India writes to CM Sonowal

The Editors Guild of India has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Assam, on the growing incidence of violence against journalists and urging him to take necessary steps to ensure their safety.

“The Editors Guild of India writes to you with deep concern about the growing incidence of violence against journalists in Assam. While we appreciate your firm condemnation of these incidents, the situation demands your urgent intervention,” reads the letter.

The letter has the list of 32 journalists killed in the state since 1991.

According to EGI’s letter, journalists in Assam have been subjected to mob attacks, intimidation and threats, which is vitiating the environment necessary for the functioning of an independent and vibrant media.

The journalists body sought the CM Sarbananda Sonowal’s intervention to assure the media that they are safe to report without fearing retribution from criminals and, in the absence of that, a sense of impunity could embolden attackers who may believe that they are above the law.

The letter mentioned two recent incidents in which one journalist was attacked and another was run over and killed by a car.

“The manner in which Milan Mahanta, 42, who writes for Asomiya Pratidin and Dainik Asom, was tied to a pole by five criminals and beaten mercilessly, is a testament of the difficult environment in which the journalists work in Assam,” said the letter.

EGI claimed “most of the cases have not been resolved with allegations of shoddy investigations,” and in many cases, culprits roam free intimidating the families of the slain journalists.

Padma Awardee editor of Shillong Times ridicules Editor Guild’s letter

Patricia Mukhim, the Padma Awardee editor of The Shillong Times, one of northeast’s’ oldest English dailies, has ridiculed Editors’ Guild of India for writing to chief minister of Assam about violence against journalists in the state.

“So the conscience of the Editors’ Guild of India is now awakened about a periphery called Assam. A delayed letter written to Assam CM about ongoing incidence of violence against journalists and urging him to take steps to ensure their safety. Wow so noble,” Patricia, who resigned from her membership of Editors’ Guild recently in protest against body’s refusal to take up her case, said in a tweet.

She pointed out that while the Guild was silent on HC order pronouncing her guilty, it condemned the arrest of Arnab Goswami who was not even a member.

There was no immediate reaction from the Guild.

Mukhim is aveteran journalist and is known for her vocal stand on many issues and rights of the lesser known voices across the North East.

On 10 November, the single bench judge of Meghalaya High Court in his ruling found Mukhim guilty of creating communal disharmony a crime under Section 153 CrPC and refused to quash an FIR filed by the Lawsohtun Dorbar Shnong (a traditional institution).