It bears discussing on the issue of conflict between the media fraternity and the ‘powers that be’ that is prevailing in Meghalaya since the past few days. The issue carries that nature where ‘arrogance of power,’ as some journalists term it, showed its best glimpse.
Before making a point, it will also bear recalling the incident of January 6 where Meghalaya Home Minister, James Sangma “misbehaved” and “intimidated” a senior journalist on duty outside the former’s official chamber in the State Secretariat in Shillong.
James is also the elder brother of Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma and Lok Sabha MP, Agatha Sangma. He is also the “official” spokesperson of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government. Besides the Home portfolio, he also holds the charge of various departments, according to media reports.
Since so many issues are prevailing in Meghalaya at the moment journalists in that state felt the need to meet the government spokesperson and so they first sought an appointment with the Home Minister as they wanted to ask questions, with the best of intentions, on several issues concerning the portfolios he is looking after, media reports said.
“When the Home Minister came out of his office chamber, the journalists offered New Year greetings which he curtly responded,” according to a letter of Shillong Press Club to the Chief Minister. Moments later, the Home Minister “reacted rudely and shoved” a senior journalist’s hand using “unpleasant language” with an allegation that the journalists tried to block his way when the senior journalist was trying to hold the Home Minister’s hands in a “friendly way” and ask some questions, Shillong Press Club added.
To everyone’s surprise, according to the letter of Shillong Press Club, the Home Minister returned in a very “intimidating manner and unbecoming of a minister,” tried to “charge towards” the senior journalist. It was the timely interventions by the Journalists present there, and the Home Minister’s staff and security personnel, the matter ended unceremoniously, the letter of Shillong Press Club to the Chief Minister further stated.
Now, Shillong Press Club and Meghalaya Editors’ and Publishers’ Association are demanding an “unconditional apology” from James with an assurance that such “unwanted behaviour” will not repeat failing which, the press fraternity will take “recourse to other options.”
Situations of this nature are becoming too common all over these days alongside the so-called “advancement of democracy.”
It goes without saying that as long as the media is obstructed from carrying out its primary duty of informing, even if it is a second-person story, the people to form templates to make good decisions, then, escalating trends pertaining to issues of transparency and control will persist.
The January 6 incident of Shillong is highlighted in detail so as for every concerned to see what it looks like of an inaccessible spokesperson, and most importantly, to note that it is very important to have an accessible spokesperson in every set up for the advancement of the society.