Mob culture? Why in Manipur the BJP is at loggerheads with the media
Imphal, Nov 21: It has been only a few months, when the northeastern state of Manipur, known as a trouble-torn area for being home to more than 40 militant groups, has elected its first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government under chief minister N Biren Singh.
However, voters are not very happy with the BJP government as it is trying its best to allegedly enforce its right-wing agenda on the state.
Taking the lead in expressing the simmering discontent of people against the saffron party is the local media. The fight between the journalist community and the BJP government has really become fierce and ugly in recent times in the state.
The recent clash between the media houses and the BJP government in Manipur started after Imphal-based newspaper, Poknapham, while criticising the BJP called Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "cattle thief" in one of its columns.
The criticism against the PM and the BJP did not go down well with the saffron party workers. As a mark of protest against the newspaper, BJP's Yuva Morcha activists allegedly burnt several copies of the local daily recently.
Copies of vernacular newspaper Poknapham were set on fire by unidentified miscreants in front of BJP's party office at Nityapat Chuthek in Imphal on Saturday over alleged disparaging content against the PM.
The local media, which again is refusing to keep quiet, decided to openly take on the BJP government. On Monday, readers of the state were greeted with blank editorials in almost all local newspapers, including Poknapham.
"The editorial column has been left blank on Monday in protest against the burning of copies of an Imphal-based newspaper by the BJP Youth Wing," the editor of Sangai Express said.
The president of All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU), W Shyamjai, condemning Saturday's incident, told reporters that "the act of burning the paper amounts to promulgation of mob culture."
"If the parties involved are unable to settle the matter at the level of AMWJU, they can approach the court," he said.
The BJP Manipur Pradesh Yuva Morcha did not discuss the matter with the editors and the publishers of Poknapham, Shyamjai added.
Echoing similar sentiments, President A Mobi of Editors' Guild Manipur said the members of the political party should have approached the right forum instead of burning editions of the vernacular.
A BJP official said the Vox Populi column in Saturday's edition of Poknapham earned the wrath of his party members.
"The content which appeared in the Vox Populi column of the daily is being considered derogatory against the PM of the country," said a BJP official on the condition of anonymity.
He, however, did not confirm if the copies of Poknapham were burned by his party members. "The case might be taken to the Press Council of India," he added.
The critical article had also said that Manipur CM Singh could "help in recovering the stolen cow". The column is a political satire about the ongoing peace negotiations between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M).
The journalist fraternity is angry because its members see the burning of copies of the newspaper as an act by the BJP to gag and muzzle the media.
"The burning of a paper is nothing but an attempt to gag and muzzle the mouth of the media. Such action is not expected of a party which is leading a government," Mobi said.