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Veteran journalist Patricia Mukhim resigns from Editors Guild of India
Mukhim alleged that the Guild “deliberately” ignored her plea concerning the recent order issued by the High Court of Meghalaya, refusing to quash a police complaint against her.
By Andre Kongri & Ibankyntiew Mawrie
Veteran journalist Patricia Mukhim, who is also the editor of the English daily “The Shillong Times,” resigned from the Editors Guild of India (EGI) on November 16, alleging that the Guild defends only celebrity journalists while choosing to ignore others.
In her resignation letter addressed to EGI president Seema Mustafa, Mukhim cited her reasons with one being that she did not consider herself part of the “August league of celebrity editors whose newspapers are widely read and web-based news portals are hugely popular.”
“I come from the fringes both geographically, and in terms of my status in an association I consider hierarchical by its very composition,” she said in her letter.
Mukhim alleged that the Guild “deliberately” ignored her plea concerning the recent order issued by the High Court of Meghalaya, refusing to quash a police complaint against her for her Facebook post on the July 3 incident at Lawsohtun in Shillong.
On July 3 this year, nine young boys were allegedly beaten up with rods for playing basketball in Lawsohtun. On July 4, she posted on Facebook and tagged Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, questioning the delay in arresting the culprits.
Her Facebook post, however, did not go down well with the local Dorbar Shnong, who alleged that her statement incited communal hatred and tension, following which the Dorbar filed an FIR against her.
Mukhim later filed a petition at the High Court seeking to quash the police complaint. However, the Court rejected the petition.
Disposing of the petition filed by Mukhim, Justice W. Diengdoh said they should give the investigation agency a free hand in probing the matter.
“In the event, the investigating agency is required to be given a free hand to investigate the matter and to come to its own conclusion in due process of law. Consequently, I find no merit in the instant petition for exercising powers under Section 482 CrPC. This petition is accordingly hereby rejected,” the judge said in the November 10 order.
The veteran journalist had hoped that the Guild would “at least give out a statement condemning the HC order, but there was and has been complete silence from the executive. Ironically, the Guild responded with alacrity and issued a statement condemning Arnab Goswami’s arrest (a non-member), not on grounds of journalistic pursuits but on abetment to suicide case.”
“I see this as a classic case of the Guild playing to the gallery to defend celebrity editors/anchors whose voices matter while choosing to deliberately ignore a plea (unstated) from one of its members. Clearly this is also a case of prejudice and a deliberate attempt to push those in the margins even further away so that they disappear completely from the national discourse (since the Guild is a national association of editors) and leave them to deal with the matter in their personal capacity. A Facebook post is also another form of media to draw attention to a serious issue. It may not be a purely ‘journalistic’ pursuit, but it still is a platform of communication which is taken seriously by the powers that be, hence an FIR being filed because of it,” Mukhim had stated.
She maintained that she no longer wants to be part of “this hallowed group of editors whose loyalties are to those that occupy a certain elite space.”