A SHORT MESSAGE
By Ramkung Pamei, President, Manipur Hill Journalists’ Union (MHJU)
On the occasion of 34th Foundation of MHJU on the 7th September 2018
My dear Comrades,
It is indeed very heartening that the joint body of journalists’ fraternity based in the hill districts of Manipur has reached the landmark of 34 years of its existence today. Age wise, we are inching towards Ruby Anniversary and no more in the spoon feeding stage anymore. I am proud to be a part of this society.
While celebrating being a journalist as well as being a member of this Union, I would also like to put across a few thoughts on the need of our united efforts to keep the profession moving ahead playing our set role given the kind of environment we are in today. We have seen in the recent past, authorities who are supposed to be encouraging the fourth estate rising against it in the name of nationalism or being patriotic. Reports of threat to the lives of journalists are increasing with every passing day. Questioning government policy or the wisdom of any ruling political leader is sedition and is declared anti- national. The Gauri Lankesh case and the silenced of Barkha Dutt have kept us wondering if journalists in this small corner of the country could stand out and face these challenges. Adding salt to the wound is the case of one of our own MLA elected from Tamenglong district abusing our comrades during their field duties on 14 March 20018 which led to the boycott of the ‘people’s representative’. The ‘senior leader’, as he called himself in a letter written to the President of All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU), dated 1st September 2018 is showing his might against the humble scribes. There is no freedom of the press or the freedom of expression as long as there is threat of physical assault to a journalist and as long as responsible leaders like this MLA do not desist from normalizing hatred and insulting the journalists in public. The boycott is still on and a more stringent move is anticipated with the Editors’ Guild Manipur (EGM) and All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) shifting from ‘showing solidarity’ with the Manipur Hills Journalists’ Union (MHJU) through Tamenglong District Working Journalists’ Union (TADWJU) to leading the move. Having said that, we never exalt ourselves in gagging somebody from speaking out to the people he represents. We want to end this impasse.
Let us all remain united and held our head high. We are being underpaid and had to undergo untold hardships in our daily activities but the contribution we made for betterment of our society is unparalleled and shall remain for our children to gauge.
I won’t take much of your time and spoil the festive mood today. Once again, I wish happy foundation day to all the members.
Long live MHJU!