Hyderabad | A day after some newsmen were allegedly manhandled and locked up inside a police station at Kozhikode in Kerala by a police officer, a journalists’ body has strongly condemned the incident and demanded stringent action against the accused police personnel.
In a statement Sunday, Indian Journalists Union (IJU) President S N Sinha, Secretary General Amar Devulapalli and Kerala Journalists Union (KJU) President V B Rajan said the action of police was a direct attack on the freedom of the press as the claim of the police that the journalists were arrested on the orders of the court was immediately denied by the judge, exposing the high-handed behaviour of the police. It is an extension of the ban on media to enter the premises of all the courts, including the High Court, in the state (Kerala). It is unfortunate that the police again raked up the case when the controversy raging for the last few weeks between the lawyers and journalists is subsiding after the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court appointed a committee to revise Guide Lines for reporting court trials and verdicts in the state, it said.
The IJU urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to immediately take stringent action against the police officers responsible for the arrest of journalists and confiscation of their equipment including OB van immediately. Immediate steps should be taken to resolve the issue so that the media can discharge its function of informing the people on the outcome of sensitive cases being heard in Courts without any hindrance, it said.
It also sought intervention of Press Council of India chairman Justice C K Prasad to resolve the issue. In yesterday’s incident, when some media personnel went to the Kozhikode district court to cover the Ice Cream Parlour case, the personnel, including a private Malayalam TV news channel reporter, were prevented by police. Three of them were taken to the police station in a police jeep and the channel’s vehicle was also seized. The incidents led to protests by many journalists who took out marches in various cities in Kerala and in Delhi. Following an uproar, the concerned police officer was suspended, pending an inquiry.