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Patricia Mukhim’s case a reflection of larger threats to freedom of speech, says Editors Guild

Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times, faces police cases against her

Eastern Times , New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India on Sunday expressed concerns over the police cases against Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times.

In a statement the guild said: “Mukhim’s case is a reflection of the larger threats to press freedom of indiaof speech in India, which operates under an unwieldy framework of laws that are often used indiscriminately by government and law enforcement agencies to muzzle dissent.”

The police have registered criminal charges against Mukhim for “promoting enmity between different groups”.

In a July 4 Facebook post Patricia Mukhim had condemned the attack on five non-tribal youth the day before by a group of masked men in Lawshuton village. The Dorbar Shnong of Lawshuton – traditional Khasi village councils – filed a police complaint against Mukhim for incitement and disturbing the peace.

In November the Meghalaya High Court refused to quash the criminal proceedings against Mukhim.

“Several provisions across multiple laws give a handle to government agencies and law enforcement authorities to lodge criminal cases against journalists wherein the criminal complaint procedure itself becomes an exacting punishment, and acts as a deterrent against exercise of free speech,” the statement said.

The guild also urged the judiciary “to ensure that wanton use of laws does not serve as a deterrent to a free press”.

On November 17 Patricia Mukhim resigned from the Editors Guild of India accusing it of treating her as a pariah and not following her case. She accused the guild of being a “toothless body” and a “cozy club” that quickly rallied around Arnab Goswami but did not stand by her.

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