IMPHAL: The Manipur government has filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the President and three members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) accusing them of attempting to incite unrest in the state.
Criticising the EGI for publishing “totally one-sided” report, Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Monday said that the organisation has failed to grasp the complexities of Manipur’s ongoing crisis.
The FIR was filed against EGI President Seema Mustafa, along with three senior journalists, Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan, and Sanjay Kapoor. These journalists had visited Manipur between August 7 and 10 to assess media reporting on the ethnic violence.
Speaking at a press conference in Imphal, Singh asserted that these individuals had arrived in Manipur with preconceived biases, characterising them as “anti-state, anti-national, and anti-establishment” figures aiming to sow discord. He further claimed that had he been aware of their intentions earlier, he would have barred their entry into the state.
The EGI’s report, published on Saturday, raised concerns about the role of the media in Manipur during the ongoing ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities. It also criticised the state’s leadership for taking sides during the conflict instead of representing the entire state.
The Editors Guild members have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 153A (promoting enmity between two communities), 200 (using false declarations as true), and 298 (deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), in addition to provisions of the Information Technology Act and Press Council Act.
In response to the FIR, the Press Club of India (PCI) condemned the actions taken against the EGI members, asserting that it amounted to intimidation of the country’s top media body. The PCI also highlighted the use of Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, which has been struck down by the Supreme Court.
The EGI’s report had pointed out that journalists in Manipur had resorted to one-sided reporting due to the Internet ban and communication disruptions, with the state government allegedly promoting a narrow ethnic narrative.
The EGI’s report had concluded that the media in Manipur had become “Meitei media” during the conflict, with editors aligning on a common narrative to avoid inflaming an already volatile situation further.
Notably, investigations into the Manipur conflict are ongoing through various committees at both the Supreme Court and central government levels.