SIT to probe grenade attack on newspaper office in Manipur

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh announced on Tuesday that the state government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the recent grenade attack on the office of Imphal-based daily ‘Poknapham’.

Announcing the decision, the Chief Minister told the ongoing Assembly session that the four-member SIT would be led by Superintendent of Police, Imphal West district, K. Meghachandra Singh.

“It was a cowardly attack on the media. I strongly condemn the attack. The attackers would be arrested soon,” Singh said as he requested the media organisations to resume publication of newspapers and telecasting news in television channels in the interest of the people.

The Chief Minister also assured to provide security to the media offices.

Various media organisations, including the Indian Journalist Union, have condemned the attack on the newspaper office. No newspaper hit the stands and no local television channels in Manipur aired any news and programmes for the third day on Tuesday as editors and journalists continued to cease work protesting against the attack on a leading Manipuri newspaper office.

A Chinese-made grenade was hurled at the office of ‘Poknapham’ newspaper in the heart of Imphal on Saturday evening, but fortunately it did not detonate. However, the police said that had the grenade exploded, a large number of employees and visitors would have been killed or wounded.

The police have not yet made any headway in the ongoing probe, while no extremist outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack.

To protest the grenade attack, editors and journalists began cease work on a call given by the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) and the Editors Guild of Manipur (EGM).

Demanding security for the journalists and media offices, a joint delegation of both the groups submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister who assured to take appropriate action in the matter.

Protesting the attack, journalists are holding sit-in demonstrations at Keishampat Leimajam Leikai since Sunday. The AMWJU and the EGM have already announced that the offices of newspapers and television channels would be closed and the publications would be suspended till Thursday.

There have been bomb attacks on some newspaper offices in Imphal in the past, triggering protracted protests from the media community. In some cases, editors and journalists went on strike for weeks as they could not make use of the contradictory statements of some terrorist outfits. A total of 32 newspapers, mostly vernacular, are published daily from Manipur and there are several cable based television channels.