After Manipur, within a week Assam has lost a young reporter, who fell prey to miscreants on Saturday. Jagjit Saikia, a Kokrajhar based scribe, associated with a vernacular Assamese daily, Amar Asom, was shot on November 22 afternoon in Kokrajhar town. He was taken to Rupnath Brahma hospital, but Jagjit succumbed to his injuries. He was also an office bearer of Assam Press Correspondents’ Union. He has left behind his wife and a minor daughter.
The northeastern part of India earlier witnessed the brutal killing of a scribe in Imphal on November 17, when unidentified assailants shot dead Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee sub-editor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily in Manipur. The Manipur police are yet to get any breakthrough, and no armed group has so far claimed responsibility for the killing.
The Journalists’ Forum, Assam strongly condemned the killing of Jagjit Saikia. In a press statement, the forum also demanded the Assam government take prompt and appropriate actions to book the culprits for stringent punishment. Meanwhile, The Journalists’ Action Committee, Assam is organizing a protest meet on November 25 (Tuesday) at Guwahati Press Club. In a statement, JAC revealed that Assam has lost 16 journalists since 1991, all of them were targeted by miscreants and banned armed groups.
The All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, Editors’ Forum, Manipur had already taken the path of agitation and asked for a four-day strike by all Imphal-based daily newspapers and local channels in protest against the murder of Rishikant. The All Manipur Working Journalists Union members also called on the Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh demanding a prompt investigation.
North East Media Forum, a body of New Delhi-based journalists also strongly condemned the killing. In an official statement the forum said that it urged the Manipur government ‘to immediately take measures to ensure [the] safety and security of the journalists working in the State’.
Even the Paris based media rights body, Reporters Without Borders issued a statement that ‘both the Manipur state government and the federal authorities must ensure that the murder investigation has the resources it needs to establish the motive and identify those responsible’. The RSF also extended support to the strike announced by the local press in protest against this cowardly murder’.
Earlier the Editors Guild of India, while expressing shock at the killing of Rishikant, extended ‘its support to the struggle of the Manipur editors and journalists, and demand immediate action by both the central and state governments to protect the media in Manipur’. Nabbing the killers of Rishikant Singh must be a high priority for the governments, it asserted.
In a letter to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Guild also appealed to him ‘to take personal interest in the situation in Manipur and if necessary, order a CBI investigation into the murder of journalists’. Signed by Rajdeep Sardesai and K S Sachidananda Murthy, the President and Secretary General of the forum, a copy of the letter was sent to Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister, Gurbachan Jagat, Governor of Manipur and Ibobi Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur.