Shillong(Meghalaya) Jan 8: The press fraternity in Meghalaya has sent a letter to the state’s Home Minister, James K Sangma demanding an unconditional apology from him for his behavior against a journalist yesterday evening even as it also sent a questionnaire asking him to answer for the enlightenment of the citizens of the state.
“We demand an unconditional apology for your act of humiliating the press and threatening violence against a senior member of our fraternity, who only sought to shake hands and put you some questions,” the members of the press fraternity said in the letter to Sangma .
The press fraternity of the state which met at the Shillong Press Club Tuesday took serious note of the Minister’s behavior towards the members of the fourth estate in the State secretariat.
“We are compelled to write this letter condemning your uncalled for assault against the press people waiting at your door for a meeting with you to seek answers to several questions currently being raised by the public,” the letter to Sangma said.
During the meeting at the Shillong Press Club, the members while condemning the incident said the journalists were carrying out their professional responsibilities trying to seek answers on behalf of the public.
“There is regular power shortage and subsequent load shedding in this severe winter, the public has a right to know what the Minster is doing about it to provide relief to the public. Sangma is duty bound to answer the questions,” members of the Shillong Press Club said.
Moreover, the members said in the meeting that there are other questions the Home Minister has to reply to like how suspected Bangladeshis are entering deep into Indian territory and committing crimes, smuggling of coal, and cattle being smuggled right up to the international border areas through the State.
The journalists said that they have tried to meet the Minister many times in the past individually and as a group but he remained elusive for reasons best known to him.
“On the 6th of January, 2020 again we had tried to meet you and waited outside your door for more than three hours seeking answers from the Home Minister of the state on several issues,” the members of the press said.
Meanwhile,The Meghalaya Editors’ and Publishers’ Association (MEPA) which is the apex body of all media houses in Meghalaya has expressed its grave concern over the state’s Home Minister ‘misbehaving’ and mistreating a senior journalist of the state at the Main Secretariat, Shillong.
“The MEPA in its emergency executive committee meeting held Tuesday has discussed the incident in detail and felt that the behaviour of the Home Minister towards the senior journalist is unbecoming of his stature since the concerned senior journalist and his colleagues present had wanted to meet the minister and discuss various issues related to the State,” MEPA general secretary, John W Thabah said .
Thabah also pointed out that since James K. Sangma is a Minister in charge of various departments and also the fact that he is the official spokesperson of the MDA Government, it is the duty of the journalists to meet him to get the version of the government on various issues.
“But the manner in which the said Minister conducted himself and even trying to aggressively confront the senior journalist E M Jose is totally condemnable and unacceptable,” he added.
In light of the situation, MEPA has resolved to demand an immediate public apology from James K. Sangma for his misbehaviour towards the senior journalist and also to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future.
“Media has the right to ask question from those in power and if the right of the media is throttled, the future of democracy will be in peril,” MEPA pointed out.
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