NEW DELHI: The Press Council of India(PCI), expressing grave concern over death threats to Editors and working journalists in Manipur from some underground and banned organisations, has sought a report from the Manipur State Government in the matter.

Taking suo-motu cognisance of the incidents, the panel is also contemplating sending a sub-committee to assess the situation. “PCI Chairman Justice CK Prasad has expressed grave concern over this issue,” the Council said in a press statement.

Justice Prasad said any diktat to the Editors or working journalists for publication or non-publication of news by State or non-State players amounted to “invasion of the newsroom” and it “violated freedom” of the press guaranteed under the Constitution.

The action follows the reports of death threats received by Impact TV Editor-in-Chief Yumnam Rupachandra Singh from a militant organisation for not broadcasting a press note issued by it. Concerned over their safety and threat to freedom of press, all the newspapers left a blank space in the editorial column on December 16 and closed down publication of newspapers and stopped broadcast of news on December 17.

“We are happy that there is action against this issue. These moves strengthen us and move ahead with more determination” said the Editor of Lamka Post Th.Thangzalian.

Terming it as “unacceptable” in a democratic society, Justice Prasad said the Press Council of India, a statutory body mandated to protect freedom of the press in the country, had taken suo-motu cognisance of the threats to the media and media personnel in Manipur. It will thereafter explore the possibility of sending a sub-committee to assess the situation in Manipur and surrounding States, he said.

Editors Guild of India has also expressed serious concern over the threats faced by the media houses in general and Editors in particular in the State. In a statement, the Guild said that there is serious threat to freedom of media in the State.

The Guild said that Impact TV Editor-in-Chief Yumnam Rupachandra Singh received death threats from a militant organisation and a bomb was found planted at the gate of his house on December 14 evening. All the newspapers in the State closed their publication on December 16 and not even a single newspaper hit the stands on December 17, the statement said.

“ This is something that we all should stand together,. The media should be free to work and write and that is only possible if there is unity. I am glad the bodies concerned have come forward and standing with us. This will make huge difference” said Mr. Pradip Phanjoubam Editor of Free Press, Imphal.

In their December 16 editions, they left the editorial space blank to protest the incident. All the TV news channels stopped their news broadcast on that day to protest the threats to the media. According to reports, two months back the media establishments in the State received a press note announcing floating of a new militant group.

As there was no independent confirmation on the claims made in the press note, the print and electronic media organisations did not publish/broadcast the news. Incensed over the refusal of the media to give publicity to their claims, some unknown persons telephoned news organisations and issued death threats and claimed that they planted a grenade in front of Rupachandra Singh’s residence.

Editors’ Guild, Manipur and other journalists and civil society organisations condemned the militant threats to Editors and working journalists and demanded that security should be provided to them. They made it clear that they would not succumb to threats. Condemning attacks on the media persons by militants, the Guild urged the Government of Manipur to arrest the culprits and give protection to journalists in the State.