What happens in the Northeast shouldn’t stay in the Northeast: ‘The Indian Express’ stands shoulder to shoulder with ‘The Shillong Times’ and tells Meghalaya HC to back off

Media solidarity sees a dramatic upsurge when biggies like NDTV are raided, or The Hindu is attacked. Industry bodies gallantly bounce into the picture and flex their notional muscle. Protest marches are taken out; editorials written.

Not so when smaller players, especially in Kashmir or the Northeast, are affected.

Or, language publications.

Or, individuals.

Thankfully, The Indian Express stands up for The Shillong Times, whose editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhury were found guilty of contempt of court, made to sit in a corner like school children, fined Rs 2 lakh, and threatened with imprisonment—and a “ban” on their 74-year-old newspaper—just for telling the Meghalaya High Court where to get off.

“The sentence is out of scale with the newspaper reports which apparently caused offence, which certainly did not amount to a frontal attack on the majesty of the law. On the other hand, the threat to terminate one of the oldest newspapers in the Northeast constitutes an attack on the press. The order is regrettable, since a court cannot possibly contemplate exerting a chilling effect on the press in a country where the judiciary has a distinguished record of expanding the freedom of expression, and protecting it.

***

The Hindu ran an editorial on The Shillong Times judgement, on March 14, 2019

Read the full IE editorial: Regrettable order

Also read: In Meghalaya, an editor’s FB posts prove costly

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