Bandh volunteers threaten ‘free movement’ of the press

Morung Express News
Dimapur | January 28


In what could be termed as several bulls in a China shop, bandh volunteers today restricted the coverage of their own protest by restricting the free movement of the press.


Journalists reporting on the unfolding events in Dimapur came under threat as they continued to be intimidated by unruly bandh volunteers throughout the day.


Among many other incidents, a woman reporter today said that she was ‘hooted’ by the all-male volunteers at every pit stop she visited while covering the bandh in Dimapur. Local leaders justified this as boys “joking” around.


“I had to make it clear that harassment of media personnel has to stop. Only then did leaders restrict volunteers and gave serious interviews,” she said.


Several inebriated and ill-informed volunteers attempted to stop even paramilitary vehicles. In one location, volunteers halted an ambulance and asked the driver to turn back.


Media persons going about their duties were halted and checked at different stops. At a barricade in Dimapur, when one newspaper’s vehicle with reporters in it was passing by, a volunteer threatened to ‘burn down’ the press vehicle.


“You press-wala should be careful,” a volunteer commented as a car carrying reporters was passing by a barricade.


At several other barricades, slurring volunteers questioned the free movement of the press, while absurdly asking media personnel to take their pictures to prove press credentials.


NPA anguished over
‘unruly behaviour’
The Nagaland Press Association (NPA) has expressed “deep shock and anguish” over the “unruly behaviour” of some volunteers who used “abusive language” on media persons on duty and threatened their movement during the bandh organized by Joint Coordination Committee on January 28.


While condemning the “dishonourable act against the media persons,” the NPA hoped that the “responsible leadership” of the JCC will be “able to discipline their own volunteers with sense of great responsibility and maturity.”


DPC condemns intimidation; appeals for safety of Journalists
The Dimapur Press Club (DPC) has flayed the “actions of some volunteers” monitoring the imposed bandh in Dimapur town for “intimidating Journalists on duty covering the bandh occasion” and appealed for their security.


The DPC condemned prevention of journalists from performing their duties even after clear announcement from the JCC exempting Press from the bandh, the DPC said in a statement issued by its President Moa Longkumer and General Secretary Henlly Phom today.


It was reported that Journalists on duty, even after producing identify cards to the volunteers, were warned not to cross by the main road frequently. “Some volunteers were not willing to allow the journalists to pass by the road even threatening to burn the Press vehicle,” it informed.


In this connection, the DPC appealed the organisations concerned to ensure that security of Journalists on duty in the future.


Without free and safe movement, the media’s ability to fulfill its duties will be hampered.