NL Conversation: Tongam Rina on racism and Big Media’s ignorance about the Northeast

The Arunachal Times editor also talks about growing state hostility towards the press, environmental journalism, and the lockdown.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Tongam Rina, an award-winning journalist, is an editor at the Arunachal Times. A credible and critical voice from India’s Northeast, she has had to deal with state hostility, online outrage, and a near-fatal attack.

In this interview with Snigdha Sharma, she discusses how the very landscape of the Northeast has shaped her journey as an environmental journalist, how journalists in the region struggle to obtain information, the environment, and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have seen enough hydropower projects in my life to say- rivers die,” Tongam says, discussing the controversy around the Etalin hydel project in the Dibang Valley. She rues how governments see the environment as simply a means of revenue generation.

Tongam recently reported how there has been a spike in wildlife hunting during the lockdown. The report stirred online backlash. Her critics felt she was “shaming the state” and encouraging racism against people from the Northeast. “India has always been very racist towards the people of the Northeast. I know that. Many of us have faced it,” says Tongam. “With regards to the report, social media really took it to a very different level.”

Talking about the increasing government hostility towards journalists who demand accountability, Tongam says, “It is hugely problematic not only for the media, but for us as a country.” Speaking about the assault on her nine years ago, and the case arising out of it which is ongoing, Tongam says she has lost faith in the police and the judiciary.

Tune in.


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