Newspapers in Nagaland issued a joint statement on Monday condemning the harassment of media houses and journalists in the state. “Nagaland newspapers are united and resolute in our stand against all coercions and threats to function freely as the fourth pillar of a democratic society,” the newspapers said.

Editors and publishers of the Nagaland Post, Eastern Mirror, The Morung Express, Nagaland Page, Tir Yimyim, Capi and Ao Milen issued the joint statement. The newspapers also urged various sections of the society to “enable a free and vibrant fourth estate, which is the only means to publicly confront all forms of political, economic and social suppression”.

Every citizen must be responsible to ensure that the media is allowed to function freely, they said, adding that print publications in Nagaland face constant intimidation, pressure and coercion.

The seven publications – both English and regional – said Nagaland’s newspapers were the only active private enterprise in the state, and they continue to render public services despite failing infrastructure and a corrupt system. “However, the media continues to be exposed to ongoing harassment and threats by individuals and organisations that coerce the media to publish their articles and statements,” they said.

The newspapers highlighted that some factions of the society wanted to dictate what they could or could not publish. “This involves dissuading and threatening journalists and media houses from reporting critical stories that expose ground realities of Nagaland’s situation and condition,” they said.

Calling such methods a grave threat to journalists’ lives, the publications said these methods undermined the “purpose and existence of a free press”, which is fundamental to a democracy. “A free not the prerogative of the politician or the bureaucrat, nor is it the privilege of the journalist,” the newspapers said.