Manipur journalists wrote one-sided reports and the internet ban had a deleterious effect on journalism as it directly impacted the ability of journalists to communicate with each other, their editors and their sources, the Editors Guild of India said in their report on Manipur ethnic violence.
“It (the internet ban) also affected the media because local news gathered without any communication links was not sufficient to give a balanced view of the situation, and often, even that was not enough to fill their pages or meet their news requirement,” the EGI report said.
The EGI also said the partisan nature of the state government did little to help matters. “There are clear indications that the leadership of the state became partisan during the conflict. It should have avoided taking sides in the ethnic conflict but it failed to do its duty as a democratic government which should have represented the entire state,” the report added.
Calling the internet ban a mistake, the EGI report said, the “internet ban only feeds rumours and blocks the views of the disadvantaged community as has clearly happened in Manipur.”
Alleging that the Imphal-based media transformed into Meitei media, the EGI report said it “acted collectively, with editors consulting each other and agreeing on a common narrative e.g., agreeing on a common language to report an incident, refer ring to certain use of language or even not reporting an event. This, the EGI team was told, was because they did not want to inflame the already volatile situation further.”
The EGI also heavily criticised the Meira Paibis, with the report claiming that “the Meira Paibis have become cheerleaders of the violent mobs attacking Kuki homes. Video clips where Meira Paibis have urged the youth to rape and molest Kuki women have surfaced.”
The report recommended that “in no circumstances should the state government go against the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the Anuradha Bhasin case” and that “If curfew is imposed, the government should make provision for the distribution of credible news through newspapers, TV channels and online publications.”
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