NEW DELHI: In a defiant move, the journalists in Meghalaya staged a walkout from the Press Gallery of the State Assembly on Wednesday as soon as the Chief Minister, Mukul Sangma started to speak.

As a part of media boycott of the Chief Minister, around 50 reporters and photographers from both the print as well as electronic media walked out of the Assembly the moment Sangma stood up to reply in an ongoing discussion on the state budget.

The media fraternity in the state have been boycotting him since March 23 following the Chief Minister’s refusal to take back the derogatory remarks he made against the media on the floor of the House on March 10.

Terming the media as “publicity houses of terrorist organisations", Sangma , while replying to a motion on government's failure to promote tourism in Garo hills had lambasted the national and the local media for "negative reporting" about the Northeast, including Meghalaya, on March 10.

He further fuelled the anger on March 20 when instead of withdrawing his statement as was being demanded by the media, Sangma rather told the Assembly that no words spoken by him during the course of his reply (on March 10) were unparliamentary, adding that every member of the Assembly enjoys the privilege to speak in the House, and any attempt to gag the members, in fact, amounts to breach of that privilege.

Since then, the scribes in the state have been boycotting any news related to the Chief Minister and have refuted his stand stating that no legislator has the right to make sweeping statements against anyone in the House and then hide behind legislative privileges.

Meanwhile, there was unprecedented security overdrive and frisking of media persons at the entrance of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

The media persons entering the Assembly with valid passes are generally not frisked. On being asked why frisking was being carried out, the security personnel could only state that they are “obeying orders from the higher ups”.

It wasn’t merely the frisking of mediapersons that raised inquisitiveness, but also the additional deployment of security personnel and additional CCTVs mounted on a van in front of the main gate of the Assembly.