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India 21 October 2002

TV journalist killed in Manipur state

Armed men shot dead TV journalist Yambem Meghajit Singh in Imphal, in the northeastern state of Manipur, on 13 October, a few days after two other journalists had been kidnapped by a separatist group.

"We urge you to see that police have the means to find those responsible and establish their motives," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to the chief minister of Manipur, Shri Okram Ibodi Singh.  He called on the chief minister to crack down on the local wave of violence against journalists, in which at least four have been killed in the last three years.

Singh, who worked on the audio-visual production company North East Vision’s weekly programme, was killed after being tortured by armed men.  His hands had been tied behind his back and his body was covered with bruises.  Colleagues suspected that one of the region’s separatist groups had killed Singh, who also ran a shop selling semi-precious stones and was involved in the student movement.

The president of the Manipur Electronic Media Journalists’ Union told Reporters Without Borders that Singh, who was the union’s vice-president, had criticised separatist groups and local politicians on his programme and had also said he was going to investigate corruption in the state.

His murder came five days after the kidnap of journalists Iboyama Laithangbam and Ymnam Arun, correspondents in Imphal for the daily paper The Hindu and the monthly Eastern Panorama respectively.  They had been on their way to the Manipur town of Moreh when they were seized by members of the separatist United Kuki Liberation Front, which complained about meagre coverage of their own activities in the media.  Both men were released three days later.

At least three media outlets, including the Imphal Free Press, got anonymous phone calls asking them to attend a secret press conference outside Imphal on 15 October.  No journalists turned up but so far no reprisals have been taken.

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