Authorities in the northeast Indian state of Manipur must investigate the beating of journalists Soram Inaoba, Nongthombam Johnson, and Brahmacharimayum Dayananda, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On the afternoon of Monday, May 22, soldiers with the Indian Army’s Jat Regiment assaulted the three journalists while they were covering a fire in the New Checkon area of Imphal, the state capital, according to multiple news reports and Bijoy Kakchingtabam, president of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, who spoke to CPJ.
Soldiers dragged the three journalists from the building where they were reporting, tore their vests emblazoned with the word “Press,” and beat them with batons, according to those sources.
“Authorities in India’s Manipur state must thoroughly investigate the recent attack on three journalists by security forces, and ensure that those responsible are held to account,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Journalists in Manipur must be able to do their work safely and without fear of harassment and abuse by soldiers.”
The three journalists were treated at the Remedy Hospital in Imphal after the attack. Inaoba, a reporter for the Manipuri-language news broadcaster Mami TV, suffered injuries on his head and right hand. Johnson, a camera operator for Mami TV, also received a head injury, according to Kakchingtabam and those reports.
Dayananda, a camera operator with the Asian News International news agency, sustained minor injuries.
The soldiers accused the journalists of throwing stones at a government-operated drone, those news reports said. However, the journalists denied that allegation, saying they were waving off the drone as it had gotten too close to them while they were reporting, according to a joint statement by the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, the Editors’ Guild Manipur, and the Manipur Hill Journalists Union, which CPJ reviewed.
CPJ texted Irengbam Arun, the media adviser to Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh, and Kuldiep Singh, a security adviser to the Manipur government who is currently overseeing the military presence in the state, but did not receive any replies.