Talk show from Manipur gets notice under new digital media laws
A talk show from Manipur on current affairs and news hosted on a social media platform has been served a notice under the new rules for digital media framed by the Centre last week.
This is probably the first such action against digital news anywhere in the country - four days after a gazette notification on the new digital media rules were published. The notice under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 notified on February 25, was issued on March 1 and served on Tuesday morning to the publisher/intermediary of Khanasi Neinasi, the talk show which means ‘Let’s Talk’ in Manipuri.
Incidentally, the show is hosted on Facebook page of Kishorechandra Wangkhem, an Imphal-based journalist against whom the ruling BJP-led government in the state has slapped several cases since 2018 and jailed him thrice.
The notice issued by Naorem Praveen Singh, district magistrate of Imphal West district, says, “It has come to the notice of the undersigned that you are providing online services on news and current affairs on the social media platform.”
The publisher/intermediary were directed to “furnish all relevant documents that ensure compliance of the provisions” of the new rules “failing which steps as deemed fit shall be initiated without further notice”.
The programme Khanasi Neinasi is around two months old and besides being shown on Facebook it was also telecast on the YouTube channel of Frontier Manipur, an Imphal-based digital news platform.
“We have hosted just 4-5 shows. The last show aired on February 28 (a day before the notice was issued) was titled ‘Media Under Siege: Are Journalists Walking a Tightrope’” Kishorechandra, who’s also an associate editor of Frontier Manipur, told HT over the phone from Imphal.
Frontier Manipur is in collaboration with another news portal called Seven Salai and uses the latter’s infrastructure. Paojel Chaoba is the publisher as well as executive editor of Frontier Manipur.
Kishorechandra was first arrested in November 2018 for uploading a video on social media which was critical of the government of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.
He was charged with sedition and also under the National Security Act. He was released in April 2019 after the Manipur High Court revoked his detention.
He was again arrested in September 2020 on charges of sedition and promoting enmity between different groups on social media. Wangkhem was released in December 2020 following which joined Frontier Manipur and started hosting the talk show.
In January this year, Chaoba and Dhiren Sadokpam, editor-in-chief of Frontier Manipur, were detained for over 24 hours based on an FIR filed by a police officer for publishing an opinion piece titled ‘Revolutionary Journey in a Mess’.