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Update on the Appeal for Urgent Actions Regarding Killing of Journalists in North East India

Update on the Appeal for Urgent Actions Regarding Killing of Journalists in North East India

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BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE (BHRPC), a human rights organisation working in Assam, India, requests your urgent actions in the following situation in North East India.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION: BHRPC issued an URGENT APPEAL regarding Killing of Journalists and Threat to Freedom of Expression and Thought in North East India on 25 November, 2008 which can be found at http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com/UrgentAppealtothePubicReJagjitSaikia.pdf and is also reproduced bellow. Today BHRPC received further information on the event mainly concerning the death of Mr. Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee sub-editor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily of Manipur, who was shot dead on 17 November in Imphal, Manipur by some unidentified assailants. The updated information given by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) under its URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME mentioning the Human Rights Alert (HRA) as source is reproduced bellow:

“Konsam Rishikanta Singh is aged about 22 years. Singh was the Junior Sub-Editor of one of the prominent English language daily--the Imphal Free Press (IFP). On November 17, Singh was expected to join duty at his office at 5pm since he was assigned the night shift. However, while Singh failed to report to work, an unidentified person called the editor of IFP, Mr. Pradeep Phanjaobam, on his mobile telephone and enquired whether Singh has reported to duty. When Phanjaobam informed that Singh has not reported to work, the caller informed
BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE (BHRPC), a human rights organisation working in Assam, India, requests your urgent actions in the following situation in North East India.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION: BHRPC issued an URGENT APPEAL regarding Killing of Journalists and Threat to Freedom of Expression and Thought in North East India on 25 November, 2008 which can be found at http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com/UrgentAppealtothePubicReJagjitSaikia.pdf and is also reproduced bellow. Today BHRPC received further information on the event mainly concerning the death of Mr. Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee sub-editor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily of Manipur, who was shot dead on 17 November in Imphal, Manipur by some unidentified assailants. The updated information given by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) under its URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME mentioning the Human Rights Alert (HRA) as source is reproduced bellow:

“Konsam Rishikanta Singh is aged about 22 years. Singh was the Junior Sub-Editor of one of the prominent English language daily--the Imphal Free Press (IFP). On November 17, Singh was expected to join duty at his office at 5pm since he was assigned the night shift. However, while Singh failed to report to work, an unidentified person called the editor of IFP, Mr. Pradeep Phanjaobam, on his mobile telephone and enquired whether Singh has reported to duty. When Phanjaobam informed that Singh has not reported to work, the caller informed

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BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Rongpur Part-iv (Near Uco Bank), Silchar - 9, Cachar (Assam)
E-mail: bhrpc.net@gmail.com, FAX- +913842-263592; WebPages: http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com

APPEAL FOR URGENT ACTIONS PRGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Event No. 06/2008, Update on the event, Date: 26/11/08

Subject: Right to Life, Right to Security and Right to Freedom of Expression and Thought.
ISSUES: Killing of Journalists and Threat to Freedom of Expression and Thought in North East India. BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE (BHRPC), a human rights organisation working in Assam, India, requests your urgent actions in the following situation in North East India. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION: BHRPC issued an URGENT APPEAL regarding Killing of Journalists and Threat to Freedom of Expression and Thought in North East India on 25 November, 2008 which can be found at http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com/UrgentAppealtothePubicReJagjitSaikia.pdf and is also reproduced bellow. Today BHRPC received further information on the event mainly concerning the death of Mr. Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee sub-editor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily of Manipur, who was shot dead on 17 November in Imphal, Manipur by some unidentified assailants. The updated information given by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) under its URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME mentioning the Human Rights Alert (HRA) as source is reproduced bellow: “Konsam Rishikanta Singh is aged about 22 years. Singh was the Junior Sub-Editor of one of the prominent English language daily--the Imphal Free Press (IFP). On November 17, Singh was expected to join duty at his office at 5pm since he was assigned the night shift. However, while Singh failed to report to work, an unidentified person called the editor of IFP, Mr. Pradeep Phanjaobam, on his mobile telephone and enquired whether Singh has reported to duty. When Phanjaobam informed that Singh has not reported to work, the caller informed Phanjaobam that Singh was shot dead near Langol area. Huiyen Lanpao, a local daily in Manipur was also informed about Singh's murder. Reporters and friends from Huiyen Lanpao rushed to the area where Singh was reportedly shot at. As they reached the area, they could see commandos from the Manipur State Police at the crime scene. It is also reported that the area where Singh was shot at is a high security area where a person to enter or depart from the area has to clear at least three security gates staffed by state security forces. The body was soon removed from the scene and an autopsy was conducted at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal. It is reported that there were three projectile injuries on the body, one below the chin and two on the upper torso. While the detailed ballistic and forensic report is awaited, the fact that three shots fired at Singh hit him suggests that the assassin fired at Singh from a relatively lesser distance and should have attracted the

attention of the security personals guarding the area. The silence on the part of the security forces, it is alleged, is indicative of the involvement of the security forces stationed in the state in this incident. On the next day the All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) held an emergency meeting at the Manipur Press Club. The meeting condemned the killing and held a protest rally on the same day evening. The AMWJU also suspect the security forces as behind the murder. The AMWJU later on the same day submitted a written memorandum to the Chief Minister of the state demanding for a judicial enquiry into the incident and further demanding compensation to be paid to Singh's family by the state. Since the government failed to meet these demands, the AMWJU organised a sit-in protest in the state capital on November 20. The AMWJU also said that they would stop working from November 20. On November 25, the members in the state cabinet demanded the state Chief Minister to hand over the investigation of the murder to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The cabinet meeting was convened specifically to discuss about the progress in the investigation into the murder. On a similar footing the Editors' Guild of India has filed a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India seeking an intervention to ensure proper enquiry into this case. The HRA informs that the killing of Singh is the latest in the series of murders of scribes, carried out both by the state as well as the non-state armed opposition groups. The HRA reports that Mr. R. K. Santatomba, the editor of Kangla Langpung was killed in 1993, Mr. H.A. Lalrhlolu, editor of Shan was killed in 1999, Mr. Thongnoujam Brajamani, editor of Manipur News was killed in 2000, and Mr. Yambem Megha, a correspondent of Vision North East was killed in 2002. In 2006 there was an attempt on the life of Mr. Ratan Luwangcha, the Secretary General of AMWJU. But he survived. The HRA further informs that in none of the cases cited above there has been a police investigation which resulted in a conviction. While the outlawed armed groups continues to pressure the local media to carry their handout and propaganda material as news, the security forces and the police exerts undue pressure upon the media whenever a news of violation of human rights and corruption are exposed by the media. Last month for example, on October 10, 2008, the Manipur police threatened the editors of three local dailies (the Sangai Express, Poknapham and Naharolgi Thoudang) when they published news exposing the nexus between Manipur police and the smugglers active in the state. The news exposed the delivery of 13 truckloads of Urea that was reportedly smuggled from India to Burma to manufacture illegal drugs. The AMWJU condemned the police action and further asked the Director General of Police (DGP) to tender an apology. The AMWJU also informed the DGP that he would be responsible if anything happened to the journalists who covered the news. There is no direct evidence to directly link the killing of Singh with this exposure. Nevertheless, the fear generated by the killing and the government's studied indifference is expected to have conveyed the message clear and loud to the media about the consequences they could face if they try to write against the police or anyone in the security forces stationed in the state.

The HRA informs that it is of the opinion that the killing of Singh is intended to generate a sense of fear and to silence the media from exposing the criminals within the law enforcement agencies.” ACTIONS REQUESTED: Please write to the authorities in India urging them 1. To conduct prompt, objective and transparent investigation into the incident. 2. To bring the perpetrators of these ghastly acts to book and punish them as per law. 3. To pay adequate compensation to the dependants/relatives of the deceased. 4. To ensure security of the life of journalists. 5. To protect the right to freedom of expression and thought of the people by going hard on those elements who pose threat to it. Or you may forward the following letter adjusting the salutation part to the addresses given bellow:

To The Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room No. 152, South Block, New Delhi Subject: Urgent Appeal Regarding Killing of Journalist in Imphal, Manipur. Dear Sir/Madam, I am informed by reliable sources that a young journalist Mr. Konsam Rishikanta Singh, aged about 22 years was killed on 17 November, 2008. Singh was the Junior Sub-Editor of one of the prominent English language daily--the Imphal Free Press (IFP). On November 17, Singh was expected to join duty at his office at 5pm since he was assigned the night shift. However, while Singh failed to report to work, an unidentified person called the editor of IFP, Mr. Pradeep Phanjaobam, on his mobile telephone and enquired whether Singh has reported to duty. When Phanjaobam informed that Singh has not reported to work, the caller informed Phanjaobam that Singh was shot dead near Langol area. Huiyen Lanpao, a local daily in Manipur was also informed about Singh's murder. Reporters and friends from Huiyen Lanpao rushed to the area where Singh was reportedly shot at. As they reached the area, they could see commandos from the Manipur State Police at the crime scene. It is also reported that the area where Singh was shot at is a high security area where a person to enter or depart from the area has to clear at least three security gates staffed by state security forces. The body was soon removed from the scene and an autopsy was conducted at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal. It is reported that there were three projectile injuries on the body, one below the chin and two on the upper torso. While the detailed

ballistic and forensic report is awaited, the fact that three shots fired at Singh hit him suggests that the assassin fired at Singh from a relatively lesser distance and should have attracted the attention of the security personals guarding the area. The silence on the part of the security forces, it is alleged, is indicative of the involvement of the security forces stationed in the state in this incident. On the next day the All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) held an emergency meeting at the Manipur Press Club. The meeting condemned the killing and held a protest rally on the same day evening. The AMWJU also suspect the security forces as behind the murder. The AMWJU later on the same day submitted a written memorandum to the Chief Minister of the state demanding for a judicial enquiry into the incident and further demanding compensation to be paid to Singh's family by the state. Since the government failed to meet these demands, the AMWJU organised a sit-in protest in the state capital on November 20. The AMWJU also said that they would stop working from November 20. On November 25, the members in the state cabinet demanded the state Chief Minister to hand over the investigation of the murder to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The cabinet meeting was convened specifically to discuss about the progress in the investigation into the murder. On a similar footing the Editors' Guild of India has filed a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India seeking an intervention to ensure proper enquiry into this case. The HRA informs that the killing of Singh is the latest in the series of murders of scribes, carried out both by the state as well as the non-state armed opposition groups. The HRA reports that Mr. R. K. Santatomba, the editor of Kangla Langpung was killed in 1993, Mr. H.A. Lalrhlolu, editor of Shan was killed in 1999, Mr. Thongnoujam Brajamani, editor of Manipur News was killed in 2000, and Mr. Yambem Megha, a correspondent of Vision North East was killed in 2002. In 2006 there was an attempt on the life of Mr. Ratan Luwangcha, the Secretary General of AMWJU. But he survived. The HRA further informs that in none of the cases cited above there has been a police investigation which resulted in a conviction. While the outlawed armed groups continues to pressure the local media to carry their handout and propaganda material as news, the security forces and the police exerts undue pressure upon the media whenever a news of violation of human rights and corruption are exposed by the media. Last month for example, on October 10, 2008, the Manipur police threatened the editors of three local dailies (the Sangai Express, Poknapham and Naharolgi Thoudang) when they published news exposing the nexus between Manipur police and the smugglers active in the state. The news exposed the delivery of 13 truckloads of Urea that was reportedly smuggled from India to Burma to manufacture illegal drugs. The AMWJU condemned the police action and further asked the Director General of Police (DGP) to tender an apology. The AMWJU also informed the DGP that he would be responsible if anything happened to the journalists who covered the news. There is no direct evidence to directly link the killing of Singh with this exposure. Nevertheless, the fear generated by the killing and the government's studied indifference is expected to have conveyed the message clear and loud to the media about the consequences they could face if they try to write against the police or anyone in the security forces stationed in the state.

The HRA informs that it is of the opinion that the killing of Singh is intended to generate a sense of fear and to silence the media from exposing the criminals within the law enforcement agencies. Sincerely Yours Your Signature Your Address Addresses to be sent to: 1. Mr. Manmohan Singh The Prime Minister of India Prime Minister's Office Room number 152, South Block New Delhi, INDIA Fax: +91 11 23019545 E-Mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in 2. Mr. L. P. Gonmei Commissioner, Civil Secretariat Imphal, Manipur, INDIA Fax: +91 385 2311793 3. Mr. Shivraj Patil Union Minister of Home Affairs Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block New Delhi 110 001, INDIA Fax: +91 11 2309 2979 E-Mail: svpatil@sansad.nic.in 4. Mr. Okram Ibobi Singh Chief Minister of Manipur Chief Minister's Secretariat Babupara, Imphal, Manipur, INDIA Fax: +91 385 2221817 E-mail: cmmani@hub.nic.in

For pdf version of the main URGENT APPEAL click bellow: http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com/UrgentAppealtothePubicReJagjitSaikia.pdf

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE
Rongpur Part-iv (Near Uco Bank), Silchar - 9, Cachar (Assam)
E-mail: bhrpc.net@gmail.com, FAX- +913842-263592; WebPages: http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com

APPEAL FOR URGENT ACTIONS PRGRAMME Urgent Appeal Event No. 06/2008, Date: 25/11/08 Subject: Right to Life, Right to Security and Right to Freedom of Expression and Thought.
ISSUES: Killing of Journalists and Threat to Freedom of Expression and Thought in North East India. BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE (BHRPC), a human rights organisation working in Assam, India, requests your urgent actions in the following situation in North East India. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION: Mr. Jagjit Saikia, a young journalist based in Kokrajhar district in Assam, India, who worked with ‘Amar Asom’ a vernacular local daily newspaper was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on 22 November, 2008 at Kokrajhar Town. Earlier, on 17 November another journalist, namely Mr. Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee subeditor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily of Manipur, India was killed in the same manner by some unidentified assailants. BHRPC has been noticing with concern that the journalists who prefer to cover insurgency and related issues are targeted and eliminated one after another. It has become crystal clear that the groups who took to the violence professedly for the protection of the rights of people have no respect for basic human rights of the individuals such as right to life, right to freedom of expression and thought, right to security of life and property etc. On the other hand, BHRPC sees these incidences not only as isolated blows to the media, which is regarded as a pillar of democracy, but also as the naked manifestation of the brutality to which the continuous assault on the right to freedom of thought and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India has reached. The State and Union Governments are under obligations in International Human Rights Law as well as duty bound under the Law of the Land to ensure the exercise of this inalienable human right by its citizens. It is evident from these and other such incidence of attack on the media and the people's right to freedom of that the Indian State is miserably failed to protect basic human rights of the citizens. ACTIONS REQUESTED: Please write to the authorities in India urging them 6. To conduct prompt, objective and transparent investigations into both of the incidents. 7. To bring the perpetrators of these ghastly acts to book and punish them as per law. 8. To pay adequate compensation to the dependants/relatives of the deceased.

9. To ensure security of the life of journalists. 10. To protect the right to freedom of expression and thought of the people by going hard on those elements who pose threat to it. Or you may forward the following letter to the addresses given bellow:

To The Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room No. 152, South Block, New Delhi Subject: Urgent Appeal Regarding Killing of Journalists in North East India. Dear Sir/Madam, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organization working in Assam, expresses agony and grave concern at yet another cruel and untimely death of a young journalist caused by unidentified gunmen. Mr. Jagjit Saikia, a Kokrajhar (Assam) based reporter, who worked with "Amar Asom", a local daily in the Assamese language, was reportedly shot at by unidentified gunmen on November 22 afternoon in Kokrajhar town (Kokrajhar district in Assam) which caused his death. The northeastern part of India earlier also witnessed the brutal killing of a scribe in Imphal on 17 November, when unidentified assailants shot dead Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee subeditor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily of Manipur. BHRPC categorically condemns these cowardly acts and sends condolences to the family members of the deceased journalists and extends solidarity with the media fraternity. BHRPC sees it not only as isolated blows to the media, which is regarded as a pillar of democracy, but also as the naked manifestation of the brutality to which the continuous assault on the right to freedom of thought and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India has reached. The State and Union Governments are under obligations in International Human Rights Law as well as duty bound under the Law of the Land to ensure the exercise of this inalienable human right by its citizens. It is evident from these and other such incidence of attack on the media and the people's right to freedom of that the Indian State is miserably failed to protect basic human rights of the citizens. BHRPC urges your office: 1. To conduct prompt, objective and transparent investigations into both of the incidents. 2. To bring the perpetrators of these ghastly acts to book and punish them as per law. 3. To pay adequate compensation to the dependants/relatives of the deceased. 4. To ensure security of the life of journalists.

5. To protect the right to freedom of expression and thought of the people by going hard on those elements who pose threat to it. BHRPC looks forward to see, Mr. Prime Minister, your government in action for ensuring exercise for human rights by the citizens of this great country without fear. With Regards

Yours Sincerely

Addresses: 1. The Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857 E-Mail: manmohan@sansad.nic.in, pmosb@pmo.nic.in 2. The Chief Minister of Assam, Assam Secretariat, Dispur, Guwahati-6, Assam, India Fax: +913612262069 3. The Chief Minister of Manipur, Thoubal, Athokpam, Thoubal, Imphal, Manipur, India Fax: +913852221817 E-Mail: cmmani@hub.nic.in 4. The Union Home Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block,

New Delhi 110 001 India Fax: +91 11 2309 2979 E-Mail: svpatil@sansad.nic.in 5. The Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India Fax: +911123340016 E-Mail: chairnhrc@nic.in 6. The Chairperson, Assam Human Rights Commission, Gauhati Medical College and Hospital Raod, Bhangagar, Guwahati-5, Assam, India Fax: +913612529450/2527076 E-Mail: hrca@sancharnet.in 7. The Chairperson, Manipur Human Rights Commission Sagolband Thangjam Leirak, Imphal-795001 Manipur, India Fax: +913852410472 E-Mail: mhrc@man.nic.in For pdf version click bellow: http://bhrpc.net.googlepages.com/UrgentAppealtothePubicReJagjitSaikia.pdf

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