Guwahati: Journalist Patricia Mukhim, the editor of Shillong Times, Friday said she will approach the Supreme Court challenging a Meghalaya High Court order that refuses to quash a police complaint against her for a July Facebook post.
The high court observed that Mukhim’s social media post “has sought to create a divide to the cordial relationship between the tribal and non-tribal living in the State of Meghalaya even alluding to the role of the state machinery as being bias (sic) in this regard”.
“We will soon be filing a petition challenging this judgment. I have been in touch with my lawyer in Supreme Court, with Vrinda Grover. Basically, we will also go by what Justice Chandrachud said yesterday about personal liberties. Also, that Facebook post of mine was not intended to incite any communal disharmony. In fact, I was appealing on human rights saying that when people are assaulted, the ones who assault should be booked,” Mukhim told ThePrint.
She was citing what Supreme Court Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had said while granting bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami: “If we don’t interfere in this case today, we will walk on path of destruction. If left to me I won’t watch the channel and you may differ in ideology but Constitutional courts will have to protect such freedoms…”
According to the high court, Mukhim’s 4 July post falls under Section 153A Indian Penal Code.
The case was registered based on a complaint by the village council against Mukhim, who is a Padma Shri awardee, two days after her 4 July post was published. She was accused of inciting communal tensions between tribal and non-tribal communities and defaming a traditional village institution of the Khasis.
Called the Dorbar Shnong, these are traditional institutions with prevailing age-old customs of governance and adjudication. They are composed of all Khasi inhabitants who are 18 years and older.
In the Facebook post, Mukhim referred to an incident that took place on 3 July in which a group of boys playing basketball at Lawsohtun, Shillong, were attacked by about 20-25 youths around noon. The victims were admitted to hospital with injuries. The police released a press statement the next day, saying seven suspects had been picked up for interrogation, the statements of the victims had been recorded and investigation was in progress.
“Some boys were playing basketball and they were beaten up with rods — some of them had serious injuries. So, my goal was to stop this kind of targeted violence,” Mukhim told ThePrint about her Facebook post.
Read the full text of Mukhim’s July Facebook post here:
@ConradSangma CM Meghalaya, what happened yesterday at Lawsohtun where some non-tribal youth playing Basketball were assaulted with lethal weapons and are now in hospital, is unacceptable in a state with a Government and a functional police force.The attackers, allegedly tribal boys with masks on and should be immediately booked. This continued attack on non-tribals in Meghalaya whose ancestors have lived here for decades, some having come here since the British period is reprehensible to say the least. The fact that such attackers and trouble mongers since 1979 have never been arrested and if arrested never penalised according to law suggests that Meghalaya has been a failed state for a long time now.
We request your Government and the police force under the present DGP, R Chandranathan, to take this matter with the seriousness it deserves. Show us the public that we have a police force we can look up to.
And what about the Dorbar Shnong of the area? Don’t they have their eyes and ears to the ground?Don’t they know the criminal elements in their jurisdiction? Should they not lead the charge and identify those murderous elements? This is the time to rise above community interests, caste and creed and call out for justice.
We hope that this will not be yet another case lost in the police files. We want action. Criminal elements have no community. They must be dealt with as per the law of the land.
Why should our non-tribal brethren continue to live in perpetual fear in their own state? Those born and brought up here have as much right to call Meghalaya their state as the indigenous tribal does. Period.
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