Veteran journalist and Padma Shri awardee Patricia Mukhim, who is also the editor of The Shillong Times, has resigned from the Editors Guild of India, alleging that the top journalists’ body “defends” only celebrity journalists.
In her resignation letter, copy of which is available with NDTV, Patricia Mukhim the example of how the journalists’ body responded with “alacrity”, and issued a statement condemning TV new anchor Arnab Goswami’s arrest but did not issue any statement in her case.
Last week, the Meghalaya High Court had refused to act over a police complaint filed against her for a July Facebook post.
Ms Mukhim claimed that she had briefed the top journalists’ body in detail about this case. “I now wish to resign from its membership. There are several reasons for doing so. First, as a journalist I don’t belong to that august league of celebrity editors whose newspapers are widely read and web-based news portals are hugely popular,” she said in her letter.
“I come from the fringes both geographically and in terms of my own status in an association I consider hierarchical by its very composition. I had shared this High Court order with the Guild hoping that it would at least give out a statement condemning the High Court order but there was and has been complete silence from the executive,” she added.
“Ironically, the Guild responded with alacrity and issued a statement condemning Arnab Goswami’s arrest (a non-member), not on grounds of journalistic pursuits but on an abetment to suicide case. I see this as a classic case of the Guild playing to the gallery to defend celebrity editors/ anchors whose voices matter while choosing to deliberately ignore a plea (unstated) from its one of its members,” Ms Mukhim wrote in a strongly-worded letter to the newly elected President of Editors Guild of India Seema Mustafa.
On July 4, in a Facebook post, Ms Mukhim had criticised the Lawsohtun village council for failing to identify the “murderous elements”, when masked people attacked five boys at a basketball court in the village. No one was arrested in the case.
Ms Mukhim had asked Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and the Dorbar Shnong, the traditional local body, to take action against the accused.
The village council in Meghalaya filed a complaint against Ms Mukhim for her allegedly trying to rake up statements.
Based on this, the police filed a criminal case against her. She was also accused of defamation.
Later, she approached the High Court for cancel the case against her. Ms Mukhim has now decided to challenge the High Court order in the Supreme Court.
“Clearly this is also a case of prejudice and a deliberate attempt to push those in the margins even further away so that they disappear completely from the national discourse (since the Guild is a national association of editors) and leave them to deal with the matter in their personal capacity. A Facebook post is also another form of media to draw attention to a serious issue. It may not be a purely ‘journalistic’ pursuit but it still is a platform of communication which is taken seriously by the powers that be, hence an FIR being filed because of it,” Ms Mukhim further wrote to the journalists’ body in her resignation letter.