Shillong: The silence of the Editors Guild of India has not gone down well with member and editor of The Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim. She has called the silence of the Guild as ‘Scornful Silence’.
In an exclusive interview with Mukhim, she told EastMojo that she was not happy with the Guild for not taking a stand.
It is to be mentioned that Mukhim on November 16, 2020, resigned as a member of the Editors Guild of India.
When EastMojo asked Mukhim what she expected from the Guild, she said, “As a senior member of the Guild, I thought they would stand by me at a time when this is a kind of state action against a Facebook post I had made in good faith and on humanitarian reason. I had called for the rule of law to be applied fairly and justly so that anyone who assaults or kills or burns someone is arrested. Because this has been happening for too long and nobody is arrested. People are assaulted, people are killed but there have been no arrests, forget about conviction.”
She added that for putting out a post like that and calling on the chief minister of the state to please allow the rule of law to prevail then one can’t expect that an FIR is filed against them.
She also reminded that recently, the Supreme Court had ruled that the High Court should be told not to file FIRs or put people in jail for tweets and social media post, that was in the Arnab Goswami case that was the ruling of Justice Chandrachud. “So it is strange that the HC of Meghalaya should give an order of that sort and say that I am trying to create communal disharmony,” expressed Mukhim.
She was also touched with the large scale support shown to her. She said that all the journalists across the country had extended their support. “Most of the leading newspapers have supported. I am also a member of the South Asian Women in Media, they have also extended their support, and they said that they would support me if I go to the SC. There is large scale support not only from media persons but from individuals across the country. Today somebody wrote an email to me from Bangalore they said if need be, they will put together some funds to pay the SC lawyer. So I’ve told them No, I have friends in the SC who will take up the case pro bono,” said Mukhim.
When asked if she would reconsider joining the Guild if they came out with a statement, Mukhim replied in the negative, because she felt that they had missed their brief.
“And their brief was to stand by everyone irrespective of status. Irrespective of whether somebody is from the periphery, or mainstream, all of us are journalists and editors. We deserve the same kind of treatment. I wouldn’t have minded if the Guild had said that we can’t take up the case since it is sub-judice. But to remain completely silent, I would call it a scornful silence,” said Mukhim.
On July 3, 2020, a group of boys who had gone to Lawsohtun locality to play basketball were assaulted with iron rods, and some had head injuries and had to be admitted to a hospital. Following this Mukhim had posted on Facebook which did not go well with the Dorbar Shnong (Traditional Institution) of Lawsohtun, who had filed an FIR against her. Mukhim’s lawyer then approached the HC to quash the FIR. On November 10, the single bench judge of the Meghalaya High Court judge ruled and refused to quash the case.
Mukhim expressed that her post was a personal point of view. “For me as a person born and brought up to look at everyone as a human being and not as a tribal or non-tribal, I felt very sad that young people cannot even play basketball without being beaten up. They were locked inside the basketball court, which means that it was a premeditated crime. But those assaulters were not even booked, so it sends a bad message of lawlessness. Therefore, I put up a Facebook post calling upon the CM, DGP to see that these things are not repeated, and if you don’t arrest the guilty these crimes will be repeated,” expressed Mukhim.
Meanwhile, President of The Shillong Press Club, David Laitphlang expressed his sadness over the incident.
He said, “I feel sorry for Kong Pat (Patricia Mukhim) that she has to undergo this. Though she is continuing her quest for getting reprieved from these allegations and just hope that it leads to a definite conclusion. It’s not easy when you’re at the hallways of the Judicial system waiting to know what the outcome is.”
When asked if he felt the Guild should come out with a statement, Laitphlang said, “I don’t think EGI should come out and take a stand and give a statement on Patricia Mukhim’s case. I think the Guild first and foremost, with a very clear and clean conscience should take a stand on any case, be it Patricia Mukhim or anybody it should have an equal yardstick. Whether small or medium newspaper, you shouldn’t think that it is a small town publication, you can’t compare the Shillong Times with bigger players.”
He added that at the end of the day the entire print line will read or have a word called the Editor and next to it a name which is sacrosanct to the newspaper. “I feel the yardstick applied by the Guild should be of equal measure and shouldn’t be biased or partisan,” mentioned Laitphlang.