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Indian newspapers protest against Assam Rifles with blank front pages

Wednesday 18 November 2015, by SIGNIS

Guwahati, Brussels, November 18th 2015 (SIGNIS/Matters India/Times of India). In India, the Assam Rifles (the oldest paramilitary force of India) sent on October 25 a notification to five media houses, saying that they were supporting the banned militant outfit National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang).

The notification accused the editors of violating the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. By publishing statements of the banned organization, the media houses were complicit in its illegal activities, the notification said. “Any article which projects the demands of NSCN(K) and gives it publicity is a violation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, and should not be published by your newspaper”.

As a response, five newspapers in Nagaland carried blank editorials on National Press Day on November 16, the national press day to protest what they termed an effort by the Assam Rifles to suppress freedom of the media in the state.
The five newspapers were the English dailies Morung Express, Eastern Mirror and Nagaland Page and vernacular papers Capi Daily and Tir Yimyim.

The Nagaland Press Association (NPA), a conglomerate of journalists and non-journalists, also extended support to the editors in their protest against the para-military force.

The NSCN(K) had abrogated the 14-year-old ceasefire with the Centre in April. Meanwhile, Nagaland Press Association president K Temjen Jamir said, “The Assam Rifles is not here to govern, but only to perform their assigned duty. They are supposed to maintain peace and as media persons we are also trying to promote peace. We must work together,” he said.

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