The Congress-led opposition in the Kerala Assembly on Monday walked out of the Assembly in protest, and slammed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his government’s “haunting” of the media and the action resorted by the police against Asianet News.
The opposition claimed that the Vijayan government was irked by a news item aired by Asianet News against the growth of the drug mafia which showed an incident involving a girl.
A treasury bench legislator P.V. Anvar levelled an allegation against the channel that the news violated the POCSO Act following which the police swung into action. On Friday night the students wing of the CPI(M), SFI barged into the Asianet News Kochi office, a first of its kind in the state, and on Sunday a high-level police team raided the Kozhikode Asianet News office and after four hours came out of the office empty-handed.
Vijayan, while replying to a motion moved by Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunath said his government has always been in the forefront of media freedom, but the action done by the Asianet News was against the basic tenets of ethical media principles.
“What the police resorted to is a natural process of law and when the police received a complaint, they started the due process of law and nothing else needed to be seen into it. If the police has served a notice to its editorial staff to appear before them, the police need not look into if the said journalist is in the hospital or elsewhere,” said Vijayan, amid huge opposition protest.
“None has forgotten how the Congress national government haunted the media during the Emergency days, when editors, journalists were arrested. By now a huge section of the journalists have not expressed that any wrong was done by the police against Asianet News,” said Vijayan, amid huge cheering from the treasury benches.
Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheeshan before leading the opposition members out of the House said that this was nothing but a well organised script on which the Vijayan government is working by targeting the frontline media house to terrorise and scare away the media.
“If one looks into the speed of the action by the police, it clearly shows that Vijayan is trying to scare them that they will take on the media and have done it on Asianet, so others beware. Vijayan, like all autocrats knows that if the media is allowed to do its job and if there are others who are critical, then silence them, is the tactic of Vijayan which is being enacted now,” said Satheesan.
Satheesan had a piece of advice to the media and quoted a top Indian journalist, “If you crawl, this government will come after you, so stand up,” added Satheesan.
Incidentally, Asianet and others have pointed out when CM Vijayan as often comes out with his stock statements like “the law will take its course”, however does not seem to take any action when their reporter at Kannur – who brought out several news attacking the ways of the CPI(M) in Kannur – after receiving a few threats complained to the police, but till date no action has been taken on his complaint.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)