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AMWJU Stands Firmly Behind Arrested Editor, To Cease Work From Today

Scribes wait for a meeting with CM in front of his official quarters December 29 evening.

IMPHAL, Dec 30: Standing firmly behind the Editor of Sanaleibak daily A Mobi, who is also the vice-president of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union as well as its spokesman, the Union has today dubbed the charges leveled against him by the police as a frame up.

To protest the arrest of Mobi, all Imphal based newspapers suspended publications on December 20 and an emergency general body meeting was held yesterday at the Manipur Press Club.

A memorandum to the Prime Minister of India and Union Home Minister will be dispatched tomorrow. A copy of the same has also been sent to the Editor’s Guild.

The Union has also decided to cease work from tomorrow until A Mobi is released unconditionally.

During the meeting, the members present took strong exception to the allegations of the police contention that a sum of Rs 50,000, two mobile phones and an unregistered scooter were recovered from him.

It is quite clear that the police have embarked on an agenda to nail the said Editor on cooked up charges, all members present agreed.

The Union also asserted that it has never raised its voice, when the police pull up any erring members of the press on genuine grounds and cited some examples, during a meeting with the Chief Minister.

Setting the record straight, AMWJU said that A Mobi was in his office room, when he was called down by the police commandos who had come under the guise of KCP members, yesterday at about 9.30 am and arrested on the trumped up charges.

Other than being the vice president of AMWJU, A Mobi was appointed the spokesperson of the Union to deal with the various threats that the media is subjected. With the State police unable to instill a sense of security amongst the media fraternity and the instances of ‘˜gifting’ bombs at the office of media houses, the threats issued by armed groups, the physical attack on the offices of the newspaper, AMWJU had nominated A Mobi to be their spokesperson to deal with all these elements.

As A Mobi was appointed the contact point of AMWJU, the banned KCP (Tabungba) had contacted him for a meeting between them and the media of Manipur outside Manipur, some time back.

Since the matter was sensitive, it was kept under wraps and not spelt out to all the members of AMWJU and as such not all members of the Union can be expected to know all the details of issues which come under the highly sensitive cases.

Since AMWJU had made it clear that they would not be able to bear the travel expenditure, the KCP (Tabungba) had suggested that a sum of Rs 50,000 would be delivered to A Mobi yesterday morning.

A few days back, a police commando had appeared, ostensibly as a representative of the KCP.

The leadership of the outfit confirmed that the police commando, though he may be in the uniformed service, was a member of the outfit, when contacted to clear the matter. This was narrated by A Mobi to the other office bearers of AMWJU, wherein he also expressed that something could be amiss.

Even as the air was heavy with suspicion, A Mobi received a call from the KCP (Tabungba), that the sum of Rs 50,000 meant for the travel expenditure of the media persons had been sent to him and he may collect the same from two persons on a rickshaw, waiting outside his office at about 9.30 am on December 29.

However when Mobi went out of his office to collect the money, the two persons, who had come under the guise of the KCP, pulled out a gun. Under the impression that they were underground cadres, there was a scuffle for a brief period.

At that time, other than Rs 2000/ in his pocket, two mobile phones and a key to his vehicle, Mobi did not have any other things on his person.

During the scuffle, the police commandos, took out their identity cards and identified themselves as such.

At that very moment, Mobi received a call from the KCP, who asked him whether he had received the money or not. The police team forced him to answer in the affirmative.

The claim of the police that Rs 50,000 was seized from his possession is nothing but a blatant lie and far from being in his possession he did not even see the said amount of money.

The Rs 50,000 which the police claimed was seized from Mobi, was actually brought by the police commandos.

The important point here is, how did the police commandos come with the money, meant to have been supplied by the KCP?

On frisking Mobi, the police commandos came across the vehicle keys with Mobi and asked him about it. When told that it was a key to his scooter, the commandos, took the scooter out from the office parking lot. Here the claim of the police that a scooter without registration number was seized from him, is questionable, observed the members during the meeting.

Given the fact that the money was brought by the police commandos, how can it be said that the money was recovered from Mobi, asked AMWJU.

To settle the matter, AMWJU members were supposed to meet the Chief Minister yesterday evening, through the intervention of Works Minister K Ranjit and IFCD Minister N Biren.

At about this time another team of AMWJU met the Additional SP of Imphal West Ak Jhalajit where they were allowed to meet A Mobi. During the meeting too, the senior Editor said that the claim of the police that Rs 50,000 was recovered from him was unfounded. ‘I had only Rs 2000 in my pocket and that too has been taken away by the police commandos,’ he added.

On the other hand, the Chief Minister refused to meet representatives of AMWJU through the intervention of Works Minister K Ranjit and IFCD Minister N Biren. Instead the CM proposed that they meet tomorrow (December 30) at 9 am.

The AMWJU members returned and decided to hold a general body meeting today at 11 am.

As scheduled, the GBM was held today with AMWJU president Khogendra Khomdram in the chair and after discussing the matter minutely, all present at the meeting decided to reject all the charges leveled against A Mobi.

It was also decided that AMWJU would launch a number of democratic protest, not to cover any function participated by Ministers and MLAs of the SPF, to blank out all news noting the achievements of the police, to let the public know the trumped up charges leveled against Mobi and to cease work until and unless A Mobi is released without any conditions.

Later in the evening at about 5, a ten member representatives of AMWJU met the Chief Minister. During the meeting, Works Minister K Ranjit, IFCD Minister N Biren Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board MLA Bijoy Koijam was present at the meeting.

During the meeting, the AMWJU representatives submitted a memorandum alleging that all the charges leveled against A Mobi were cooked up.

After going through the memorandum, the Chief Minister said that there is a gulf of difference between what AMWJU had to say and what the police had submitted to him.

The Chief Minister assured that a top level meeting attended by police officials including the DGP will be held tomorrow.

However since no final decision was taken, it was decided that AMWJU would go ahead with its scheduled agitation as announced.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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