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6th May 2004


Elders assure AMWJU

IMPHAL, May 5 : Reacting with ‘shock’ over the outbursts of the All Manipur Wokring Journalists' Union against its statement pertaining to the action of some NSCN (IM) cadres who stopped a group of media persons from covering the rescheduled polling at Tamenglong on April 30, the Elders' Forum, Manipur has today assured that it would investigate the matter and any guilty persons would be tried according to the customary law of the land. In a statement, the Elders Forum regretted that the misunderstanding could have been avoided if only the AMWJU had contacted them to sort out anything. The statement also said that the Elders' Forum and the AMWJU are two sides of the same coin and assured that it would work hand in hand with AMWJU to redeem Mani-pur from the clutches of exploiters for their selfish ends.

Chief minister Ibobi preparing to drop 20 ministers by July 7: Gaikhangam

The Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL, May 5: As per the July 7 deadline for implementation of the recently passed Anti-Defection Law by the Parliament, the O Ibobi led SPF government has disclosed that the ministry would undergo downsizing before the deadline expires.

Works minister Gaikhangam who is also spokesperson of the SPF government while interacting with the IFP today in his office chamber however stated that the chief minister has no inclination to implement the new and toughened Anti-Defection Law hastily in the state.

The Act will be implemented in the state only when it becomes absolutely necessary and inevitable. It would not do it alone either and would be considering the mood and inclination of neighbouring states before taking the leap, he said.

He also said that the chief minister must also be working on a downsizing formula, adding that no political hassles are expected even if the law is implemented in the state.

After the implementation of act in the state, the SPF ministry would have only 12 ministers while the dropped ministers are likely to be absorbed as chairmen of various board and projects in the state enjoying the rank of Cabinet ministers.

Many others can also be accommodated in equivalent posts of state ministers if the posts in the rank of Cabinet ministers are filled, he said adding that the implementation of the law will have the least effect on the SPF government.

It may be noted that the new Anti-Defection Law which stipulates bringing down the size of ministry both in the state and Centre was passed smoothly in the Parliament after due approval by all political parties.

Expressing that the importance of a minister will be enhanced after the downsizing and implementation of the Act, the spokesperson said that at present, ministers are mushrooming and have lost their value.

However, the spokesperson evaded the query on how the ministry allocation will be made in the event of implementing the act. He refused to comment if the ministers will be retained based on district or community-wise allocation.

Meanwhile, FCS minister Ph Parijat of CPI, the other partner of the ruling coalition in the state while interacting with the IFP stated that the Congress is unlikely to close its doors to his party considering the present political scenario.

If the act is implemented in the state his party has to drop three ministers as per the ratio of the ministerial posts the party is allotted in the ruling coalition, Parijat said.

He however added that his party would welcome any move from the Congress if it assumes that the SPF ministry will be stable by the ouster of CPI from the coalition.

AMWJU comes out against Elders Forum statements

The Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL, Apr 4: Hitting out at the Elders Forum for trying to distort the truth about th incident in which NSCN (IM) men obstructed the due discharge of duty by pressmen, the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union in a release said the forum has gone awry.

It condemned the NSCN (IM) for barring the media team from covering the April 30 Outer Manipur Parliamentary elections repoll in Tamenglong.

On April 29, a five member media team and two BJP workers who left Imphal for Tamenglong were stopped at around 8 pm at Noney by capt Apon of NSCN (IM) and other cadres under his command.

Through the barrel of the gun, the outfit prevented the team from witnessing the truth and forestalled factual reporting about the polls in Tamenglong, it said.

In unconventional style, the journalists were frisked and their identities noted. Later the two vehicles of the team along with the two BJP workers were detained by the outfit preventing access into the area, it said.

The media team were holed up at a hotel guarded by NSCN (IM) cadres for a night keeping an eye and even banning free movements in and around the hotel. They were then sent off by the NSCN (IM) next morning to Imphal.

Upon reaching Imphal, the team narrated their ordeals in the hands of NSCN (IM). The tale of the team clearly pointed that the outfit acted in total disregard to the freedom of press, it said.
In total contrast, the Elders Forum issued a press statement saying that the pressman were not prevented by anybody to cover the elections at Tamenglong. This twisting of the truth by the forum is a challenge to the whole press fraternity.

The forum should clarify to the AMWJU and straighten out the twist within five days, it said.
Disapproving the press statement by S Sothang, chairman, steering committee, elders forum snubbing over the report in local dailies about the media team being ill treated, the AMJWU said that the gimmick was done to discredit the press, it said.

The pressman who went to Tamenglong to do their bit were given the kind of treatment not uncalled for in a free society, it added.