The daily drill of news distribution came to a halt in Manipur on Sunday after journalists went on an indefinite strike in protest against a grenade attack on the office of a regional daily, PTI reported. None of the newspapers hit the stands and television channels suspended bulletins as all media organisations in the state participated in the protest.
A hand-grenade was lobbed at the office of Poknapham, the largest circulated vernacular newspaper in Manipur, in Keishampat Thiyam Leikai area of Imphal West district around 6.30 pm on Saturday. Besides the Poknapham, the office also publishes a sister publication, the Chronicle.
The CCTV footage showed the grenade was hurled by a woman who came on a moped. No underground organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack. Poknapham Editor Aribam Robindro Sharma told NorthEast Now that they did not receive any threats or intimidations from anyone either.
An unidentified state police officer expressed relief that the grenade did not explode as there were a large number of employees and visitors in the office at the time of the attack, reported The Hindu
The call for Sunday’s shutdown was given by the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union and the Editors Guild of Manipur. The media groups convened an emergency meeting at the Press Club late on Saturday and resolved to suspend all publications and broadcast.
Journalists held a sit-in demonstration at Keishampat Leimajam Leikai from 11 am to 3 pm. Later, a memorandum was submitted to Chief Minister N Biren Singh, urging him to ensure that the press in the state is allowed to function freely.
Following Sunday’s protest, the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union and the Editors Guild of Manipur said they will hold another round of meeting to decide the further course of action, reported The Indian Express. “We vehemently condemned the attack,” the Guild’s Manipur unit President K Khomdram told the newspaper. “We construe this attack not on Poknapham but to the entire media fraternity”.
Manipur Police have launched a search operation to arrest the culprits behind the incident. However, no arrest was made in connection with the incident so far. Security has been beefed up around all the media houses in the state.