The Telegraph and the All Manipur Students Union

IN Regional Media | 10/02/2003
A paper misreports, a students union declares it banned, then the paper apologises, but only selectively.


                      The Hoot Desk


  Courtesy the Northeast Vigil website, and the Imphal Free Press  


On January 11 the Guwahati edition of the Telegraph of Kolkata carried a lead news story filed by the Delhi correspondent of the paper, Seema Guha, under the headline ‘Naga leaders raise union cry’ and datelined New Delhi, January 10. Referring to the 2001 agitation against the NSCN (IM) ceasefire extension to the soil of Manipur, the report said, "Two years ago, feeling ran high in Manipur, and the Meiteis burnt and looted the properties of the Nagas living in the valley."

There was instant reaction in Manipur. PTI reported on January 14 that on the previous day the All Manipur Students Union (AMSU)  banned circulation of the Telegraph inside Manipur for what it alleged was "inciting communal tension in the State by publishing wrong and baseless reports." The joint secretary AMSU Thangjam Joshikanta Singh was reported to have said in a statement that The Telegraph daily should not be circulated in Manipur by any agency until further notification from the students’ body.


Members of another organisation, the All Manipur United Clubs Organization symbolically consigned a copy of the paper to flames the day the report appeared. Its spokesperson said that no such incident took place during the mass agitation either in June or July, 2001. The United Committee of Manipur (AMUCO was one of the constituent units of the UCM during the agitation) went the extra mile to ensure that no communal overtone was given to the agitation. The protest was against the extension of the NSCN (IM) ceasefire as well as against the divide and rule policy of the Centre and not against any community. He further said that AMUCO would demand a clarification from the paper and if the clarification does not come then further recourse will be taken up.


On  January 15 The Sangai Express, of Imphal reported that The All Manipur Students` Union has lifted the ban imposed on ‘The Telegraph’ after the Editor of the daily based in Guwahati tendered a written apology to the president of the student body. It said, "In a statement, A Shyam Singh, general secretary of the union said that the union lifted the ban after the editor of the daily gave a written statement to the president of the union expressing regret at the report and assured that such distortion of history of the State will not be repeated in the future."


Others confirm that the report was erroneous and dangerously so. It said Meiteis burnt Naga properties during the June 2001 agitation whereas the agitators burnt the Assembly building and other important government installations and virtually no private properties at all.

The Telegraph carried the story in its Calcutta, Guwahati and internet editions. The paper subsequently carried an apology only in its Guwahati edition. Nobody complained, because it is the only edition seen in Manipur.




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