Manipur has a sensitive government: Grace Jajo, scribe barred from assembly for Facebook post

20 April 2021
Grace Jajo, an independent reporter from Imphal, was barred from entering the Manipur legislative assembly on 22 February.
MAHESH BHAT/courtesy GRACE JAJO
Grace Jajo, an independent reporter from Imphal, was barred from entering the Manipur legislative assembly on 22 February.
MAHESH BHAT/courtesy GRACE JAJO

Grace Jajo, an independent reporter from Imphal, was barred from entering the Manipur legislative assembly on 22 February, the last day of its most recent session. Without prior notice, she was informed at the assembly that her permit to observe the session was revoked and that she would not be permitted to enter the premises. The next day, Raju Yanglem, the public relations officer of the legislative assembly issued a press release stating that the assembly security prevented the entry of Grace Jajo on the ground that she demeaned “the Privilege of the House” in a Facebook post. Privilege of the House refers to the assembly’s right to regulate its own proceedings.

On 19 February, the state’s legislative assembly secretariat issued a notice saying that the Imphal-based online news portal The Frontier Manipur had breached the privilege of the house for a piece on recent remarks by N Biren Singh, the state’s chief minister. The next day, Jajo shared the link of a report titled, “The Frontier Manipur offers explanation on breach of privilege and contempt of House Notice,” on her Facebook account, with the caption “Drama from the assembly.”

The breach of privilege motions are part of a wider crackdown by the government of Manipur on journalist in the state. On 2 March, a talk show hosted by Kishorechandra Wangkhem, a journalist presently with The Frontier Manipur, in which Jajo participated, was served the first notice under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021. The Rules were passed only a week before, and have been criticised by activists for severely curtailing press freedom and digital rights. Later that day, the notice was withdrawn after a directive from the ministry of information and broadcasting. Kimi Colney, a reporting fellow at The Caravan, spoke to Jajo about the events of 22 February and press freedom in Manipur.

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    Kimi Colney is a reporting fellow at The Caravan.

    Keywords: Manipur Freedom of Press press freedom journalists
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