Dimapur, February 14(NEPS):
The media community in Nagaland has expressed outrage and consternation over the insinuation by four elected members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly that the press in the State is functioning like a “dictator”. “…the freedom of the press does not mean dictatorship of the press,” the MLAs said in a statement while reacting to a stand taken by the Kohima Press Club (KPC) not to allow one of its member – the NEPS Editor (Oken Jeet Sandham)- to meet the MLAs under any circumstances. The 4 MLAs from Mon District had earlier summoned the NEPS editor to meet them “in person” in Kohima “without any further correspondence” to clarify on a report filed by the NEPS on the possibility of bifurcation of Mon District for administrative convenience. The Kohima Press Club (KPC), the Dimapur Press Club (DPC) and the Mokokchung Press Club (MPC) in separate statements issued today expressed alarm over the utterance of the four MLAs by likening it to questioning the sincerity of the State media. “The media under no circumstances function like a dictator and religiously follows the ethics and norms. Rather, the media in Nagaland functions under extreme duress from various quarters who are trying to dictate to their terms,” the KPC said. The Dimapur Press Club also observed that the “language and tenor of the MLAs has put across the point that the press in Nagaland is functioning in a dictatorial manner.” “The press strives to play its role of a watchdog of the society and the government and to keep the citizens informed. Executing this informed role of the press should not be misconstrued as dictatorship of the press,” the DPC said in a separate statement. The MPC in another statement said it is insulted by the statement of the four elected representatives questioning the sincerity of the press. “There are more conscientious ways to express one’s views than stereotype the press as a whole. Press in the state of Nagaland has come of age and such discourteous utterances are an insult to the intelligence of the press fraternity.” KPC reiterates stand against summon The KPC has meanwhile reiterated its earlier stand that the NEPS editor should not meet the MLAs concerned on the news item on the possible bifurcation of Mon district that appeared in the local dailies on February 6 last. “We once again reiterate that we encourage debate and discussions on any matter of public importance,” it said. On the stand that the four MLAs did not stop the editor of NEPS for clarification, the KPC pointed out that the first statement that appeared on 8th February in local papers stated, “The MLAs directed Sandham to meet them in person to clarify the news in Kohima without any further correspondence.” In bad taste: DPC Reacting to the summon issued by the MLAs, the DPC said it was in bad taste. “It is in bad taste that the MLAs resorted to summon the press instead of issuing a statement to refute/clarify their stand on the report. It must also be known that the press cannot be summoned for filing reports unless the case goes to the court and becomes answerable.” The DPC places itself in the role of a mediator, if needed be, and appeals the NEPS and the MLAs to resolve the issue in an amicable manner, it added. Autocratic, says MPC The MPC while expressing solidarity with the MPC observed what it called the “perfunctory statements” emanating from the four MLAs as “ostentatiously autocratic and reprehensible.” “The vilifying act of the four Honourable MLAs to summon or direct a member of the Fourth Estate to appear before them personally is, in the first place, authoritarian in nature that has no place in a democracy. Their later statement clarifying that their intention had been misinterpreted is not a valid excuse, given the fact that their summoning of the NEPS Editor to come personally to their presence speaks volume about their intention of trying to suppress investigative journalism or for that matter, the fourth estate in the state,” it said. “People have equal rights to correct information and refute false and misleading information,” if any, as rightly pointed out by the MLAs, but without flexing their supercilious muscles, the MPC added.