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Sixth IED attack in state by HNLC since 2020

Militant group questions media; Shillong Press Club reacts

Shillong, Aug 10: The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has carried out the sixth IED attack within a span of one and a half years.

In 2020, it had resorted to the use of IED to target a coke factory in East Jaintia Hills.

The HNLC, while claiming responsibility for planting the IED at Laitumkrah market, said the decision to execute the blast was because people of this region have defied bandhs called by the HNLC time and again. It added that the High Court has deemed illegal bandh called by the HNLC and other NGOs.

“Therefore, we urge the High Court to scrap such order failing which something worse may happen in public places from now onwards and we will not be responsible for it,” the  HNLC general secretary cum publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said in a statement.

HNLC IED ATTACKS SINCE 2020 

January 17, 2020: IED planted in coke factory, East Jaintia Hills

February 20, 2020: IED blast in coke factory, Shallang, West Khasi Hills

November 26, 2020: IED blast at Soo Kilo market under Sutnga Elaka, East Jaintia Hills

December 13, 2020: IED blast at staff quarters of Star Cement, East Jaintia Hills, two injured

July 14, 2021: IED blast at Khliehriat Police Reserve, East Jaintia Hills

August 10, 2021: IED blast at Laitumkhrah market, two injured

THREAT TO MEDIA HOUSES 

The HNLC has also threatened media houses which refused to publish their press releases announcing bandhs.

“The role of the media is to be neutral but if they continue to succumb to the order of the High Court or the government that means they are no longer independent and we will have to take them as our enemy,” Nongtraw stated.

The HNLC leader said it is ever ready to execute similar blasts in any targeted location at any time of the day and the police cannot stop it.

“When we executed an IED blast at the police reserve, the SP of that district (East Jaintia Hills) had stated that it was an act of cowardice and that we were taking advantage of heavy rainfall and night time – that means what we did today during day time was bravery…please don’t provoke us. All this while we tried to execute during night time to avoid movement of people but today we were compelled to do it during day time,” Nongtraw said.

“Any senior police officer who talks whatever they feel like will have to take full responsibility if we start showing power again,” he said.

The HNLC also expressed regrets that some of the people were injured during the IED blast.

PRESS  REACTS  

The Shillong Press Club in an online meet on Tuesday expressed concern at the tone and tenor of the HNLC statement that squarely accused the press of ignoring the HNLC’s statements and castigated it for obeying the order of the Meghalaya High Court.

The full bench consisting of Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh, Justice T Nandakumar Singh and Justice S R Sen in its order on May 27, 2015 had said, “Hence, we direct that the statements of HNLC or any organisation which may disturb the even tempo of day-to-day public life and cause violation of fundamental rights of citizens in particular under Article 19 and 21 of the  Constitution of India relating to strike, bandh, hartal, road blockade and holding of rallies with unlawful design shall not be issued by any of the print and electronic media. In case of violation of this order, the court may not only proceed under the contempt of courts act, but it is also directed that the state government shall register criminal cases under appropriate provisions of the law.”

The members were categorical in reminding that while freedom of expression applies to the journalist as well, obedience to the law of the land in letter and spirit is also an absolute responsibility.

“As journalists, it is our duty to first obey the law of the land and for that matter the universal law of the world and humankind which abhors violence and senseless criminal acts while discharging our professional duties”, a statement by the Club said.

“May we ask if one violates a standing High Court order which assures due punishment for violators, and is harassed or even incarcerated, who will fend for the family of the journalists? Will the HNLC intervene and sort out the issue or for that matter rescue the journalist from a foreign land”, the press asked.

“Perhaps the HNLC is not aware that journalists perform their assigned duty and it is left to the editorial heads to decide what goes and what does not and here too, the universal law of the land clearly applies to the editors as well if not more,” the SPC said.

It said, in fact, some members felt that this matter should be addressed to the publishers, editors and producers who are legally responsible for the publication/broadcast.

It may also be reminded that issuing a threat however veiled it may be, tantamount to violation of personal liberty which also applies to the HNLC which from time to time seeks support from human rights bodies whenever it has felt wronged.

PLEA to HC

The SPC also drew the attention of the Meghalaya High Court towards the recent event and implored upon it to comprehend the threat apprehension that the working journalists now have because of such an intimidating statement; and perhaps can conceive a permanent solution to this prickly but sensitive matter.

“The journalist fraternity of Meghalaya stands firm in solidarity with one another and will continue to serve the peace loving people of the state in the best possible manner it can, despite the many challenges and stumbling blocks throughout the journey,” the SPC said.

It also called upon the HNLC which has always used the services of the media as a medium to announce its intentions and actions and even indicated its desire to return home, albeit on its terms; to ponder over what it has communicated to the press and hopes that prudent wisdom will prevail, so that the people of the land already living a beleaguered life with so many uncertainties can at least live a life of lasting peace.

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