Amid several journalist associations coming out in support of Asianet, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan defended thepolice action against the Malayalam channel, telling the Kerala assembly that it could not be compared to the tax searches on BBC India premises.
“The occupation of a person is not a factor while taking legal action against an individual who is involved in a criminal activity. The law does not allow it,” the CPM leader said, replying to a notice for an adjournment motion moved by Congress MLA P C Vishnunath. The opposition staged a walkout as the speaker denied permission for the motion.
According to the Indian Express, Pinarayi said a fake video can’t be called journalism and there was no comparison between the action against Asianet and the income tax searches on BBC premises. “The action against BBC was for having brought to light the role of a ruler in a communal riot. The fake video production (by Asianet) was not an expose against any government… So, the argument that the police action was retaliatory in nature does not hold water.”
Meanwhile, the News Broadcasters and Digital Association on Monday joined a growing list of journalist associations who condemned the police search at the channel’s office and the alleged vandalism by SFI activists on premises.
“The attack by SFI activists and the subsequent police search of the broadcaster’s office, comes in the backdrop of the reporting by Asianet news channel on the issue of drug and sexual abuse of a young girl in Kerala. These actions are not only unacceptable but are also a direct impingement on the media’s freedom of speech and expression as enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,” read the NBDA’s statement on Monday.
“NBDA unequivocally states that there can be no possible justification for attacking and/or searching the broadcaster’s premises as such attacks and searches are an obvious attempt to muzzle the media.”
On Sunday, the Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Delhi Union of Journalists, and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists had condemned the incident, calling it an “attack on press freedom”.
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