The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on July 8 expressed serious concern over a police complaint by Lawsohtun village council against The Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim for a social media post.
The village council filed the complaint against Mukhim on July 6, alleging that her comments on Facebook about the attack on six non-tribal youths in Lawsohtun village last week could incite communal tension.
In a statement, IJU President and former member, Press Council of India, Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General and Vice-President, International Federation of Journalists, Sabina Inderjit said if the village council is aggrieved on Mukhim’s Facebook posting or writing in any media outlet, it may issue a clarification on her comments/report in concerned media which is the norm set by Press Council of India and other international media regulatory bodies.
Filing police case for an opinion or any post in social media/report in newspapers/electronic media/portals against a journalist is nothing but violation of freedom of press and freedom of speech, they added.
The IJU appealed to concerned leaders of the village council to withdraw the complaint and issue a press release and express its stands.
Since a village council is a democratic institution it is expected it follow norms and respect freedom of press, the statement said.
As per media reports on July 3, some masked miscreants armed with iron rods and sticks had attacked six boys in a basketball court in Lawsohtun village.
Mukhim had in her Facebook post, tagging Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, said the incident was ‘unacceptable’. No arrests have been made in the case so far.
Eleven suspects have been detained for questioning, East Khasi Hills district Superintendent of Police Sylvester Nongtynger was quoted as stating.
IJU leaders said the incident is unfortunate and the matter should be settled through dialogue and mutual understanding on the basis of the doctrine of freedom of speech and responsibility on socially sensitive issues.