A deserted street in Kohima. With 21-day lockdown in full force, journalists in Nagaland have to tackle various logistical challenges. (Morung File Photo)
Morung Express News
Kohima | April 4
Despite the exemption of journalists during the lockdown, media persons in Nagaland continue to face restrictions in their line of duty.
On April 4, the movements of several media persons in Kohima were restricted by police personnel.
"I am not able to understand the situation like today why our movement was restricted at every check point by the police personnel when we are all on duty," shares Asonuo Kezieo, Editor, All India Radio questioning if the media has really been exempted from the purview of the current lockdown. While on her way for reporting, Kezieo was stopped by the law enforcement personnel where she was informed that the pass she possessed was invalid and that the movements of all vehicles without a valid pass issued from the district administration were restricted.
"Incidents like today are such a mental harassment," expresses Kezieo addressing the concerns of the media persons where many are often left with the dilemma of whether to report for duty or run around seeking for passes.
While no one is immune to COVID 19, media persons are bound by duty to keep updates of the prevailing situation for the interest of the public, views Kezeio.
In another such incident, Sara Naam, Nagaland Correspondent for NE Live and her colleague were stopped and restricted by police personnel on duty, thrice on Saturday. "I told them I was going for duty and showed my Kohima Press Club Id card and my channel Id card but that didn't help at all. I explained that the media is exempted and even the Ministry order states it clearly. But they kept saying the DC issued an order and we are following that,” said Naam who had to call up the DC and in turn let him explain it to the personnel. She was stopped again while returning home.
The press fraternity had requested officials for passes, however the request was casually brushed away, with officials stating that media persons do not require passes, and that the id cards were enough.
Naam, however, argues that the ground reality is totally different with many of the reporters halted by police on duty and compelling them to call up officials time and again for entry during reporting.
"I understand it is a burdensome task for policemen to man the Kohima roads, with too many vehicles and on top of that our Naga people’s easy-go attitude. However, there is some mismanagement on their side, which if improved will make things quite easier for public and authorities as well," says another media person.
Even after issuing exempted Car Passes, which were prominently stuck on the windshield, the staff were stopped regularly. One of the drivers was told that the car pass was not valid if the drivers does not carry their own Identity cards. "Today, there is a new pass issued again, making the old one invalid. It will save much time and resources if car passes are issued separately for media which can be used during lockdown and after also," viewed the reporter.
"Proper sensitizing is needed on the ground level especially for the policemen who are manning the roads. It really hampers the working, especially in news collection, if one doesn’t reach on time," stated the journalist.
With directives already issued from the Centre and State governments on the exemption, law enforcement personnel in the field need to besensitised and educated to avoid confusions. While appreciating the service of the administration and police personnel working tirelessly for the public, the media fraternity continues to appeal to the State authorities to sensitise its personnel.