Meghalaya: Where is that ‘Freedom of the Press’? asks HNLC
By Our Reporter, TNT News | Shillong, April 18, 2018:
A day after a petrol bomb was hurled at the residence of Shillong Times Editor's Patricia Mukhim in Umpling, condemnations poured in from different sections of the society with media organisations hoping that 'Freedom of the Press' in a democracy is not undermined or attacked.
Interestingly, the concern over an attempt to attack the freedom of the press in Meghalaya was also expressed by banned militant outfit– Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC); however, it alleged that this 'freedom' had long been restricted ever since the 'interference' of the Meghalaya High Court.
"If we speak about freedom of the press in Meghalaya, the question arises – where is that freedom?" said HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw.
HNLC recalled that on May 27, 2015, the Meghalaya High Court issued an order prohibiting media houses from publishing any bandh-related press releases issued by any militant outfit or social organisation and this order came after the HNLC had called for a bandh vis-à-vis the Village Administration Bill (VAB).
"Prior to this, on January 8, 2015, the High Court had also issued an order prohibiting the media from taking interviews or release any statements issued by former CEM of KHADC, Adelbert Nongrum simply because he was defending and speaking for the rights of the indigenous community," Nongtraw added.
Furthermore, the HNLC alleged "The interference of the court in the recent years is similar to it running a 'parallel government' and it is because of this, the media in Meghalaya is gradually losing its grip. If the Court tries to tie their (media) hands and shut their mouths, how would the media be free?
If the Court cannot revoke this order and provide the press the freedom it deserves, "Then incidences like these will continue to happen, without a doubt. Now it's just petrol bomb, who knows, later it might be a chemical bomb," Nongtraw added.