The Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF) expressed its deep concern over the legal threats issued by Meitei journalists against their senior colleagues from the Editors' Guild of India (EGI). EGI, a respected institution in the media industry, recently published a report on the sectarian conflict in Manipur. ITLF also strongly condemned the filing of an FIR against the EGI team by the Manipur Police, reflecting the government's lack of tolerance for differing viewpoints.
The EGI team, comprising members with over 60 years of journalism experience, embarked on a challenging mission to a conflict zone after receiving multiple representations about the biased role of the media. The Indian Army had also communicated to EGI, highlighting instances of "outright misrepresentation of facts" by media outlets in Meitei-controlled Imphal.
It is crucial to note that no Meitei or tribal journalists accompanied the EGI team during their fact-finding mission, ensuring their independence and impartiality. Manipur's journalists and the state government may scrutinize the report's details, but the overarching reality is apparent - Meitei media outlets have transformed into propaganda machines during the conflict, aligning with the militants and the chief minister's narrative.
The alarming radicalization and propagation of hate within the Meitei community indicate a complete indoctrination, where all Kuki-Zo tribals are unjustly labeled as "foreigners," "narco-terrorists," and "militants" intent on seizing their land.
Valley-based media organizations in Manipur have not merely indulged in biased reporting; they have at times published entirely fabricated news. Imphal newspapers have even carried false reports of intense gun battles between Kuki-Zo tribal groups in the heart of the region.
The EGI team's mandate was to assess the state of reportage amid the intricate dynamics at play, and they faithfully reported their findings without bias or favoritism. Regrettably, the Meitei community has resorted to its standard response towards those who dissent from their narrative - employing the legal system against them.
It is worth noting that Manipur Police also filed an FIR against a fact-finding team from the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) in July.
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