‘Highly anti-democratic’: Journalists, activists issue statement on Kerala FIR against reporter

A freelance journalist was booked for his piece in Maktoob Media.

WrittenBy:The News Minute
Date:
Journalist Rejaz M Sheeba Sydeek.
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Several journalists, activists and others have signed and released a joint statement condemning the Kerala government for registering a suo-moto case against journalist Rejaz M Sheeba Sydeek for a story published on Maktoob Media

The statement slammed the Kerala government and drew parallels to the BJP-led union government in intruding into the freedom of speech and freedom of media. “The state government’s action of taking a suo moto case in this matter is highly anti-democratic and an attack on the freedom of press,” the statement read.

It was signed by over 30 people, comprising journalists, activists, economists and others. This included R Rajagopal from The Telegraph, KP Sethunath from Malabar Journal, economist KT Rammohan, writer and activist Sunny M Kapikad, and actor Jolly Chirayath.

Rejaz’s story, published on October 30, was about the alleged anti-Muslim bias in Kerala that led to the detention of five Muslim youths, reportedly without any leads, in connection with the Kalamassery blasts. On October 31, the Vadakara police booked Rejaz, a freelance journalist, in a suo moto case alleging provocation with intent to cause a riot in his news report. 

On November 16, the police summoned and questioned Maktoob Media editor Aslah Kayyalakkath in connection with the case. The portal’s deputy editor told Scroll the FIR was “proof of their anti-Muslim bias”.

The media statement described the government’s action against Rejaz as “an intrusion by the state into the citizen’s freedom of expression and freedom of media”.

“The state government, which claims to be Left, is following a similar pattern as the Union government by suppressing the civil rights of activists and media persons to criticise the police and the government,” it said, adding that the Kerala government claimed to stand by NewsClick even as it curtailed Rejaz’s press freedom.

“Such double-facedness will weaken the growing anti-fascist struggles across the country. In present day India, when most of the mainstream media are turning into Godi media, Kerala's LDF government, which is behaving like the RSS regime at the centre, should stop its crackdown on the media which questions the government. Suppressing people's right to know is unconstitutional,” it said. 

The statement demanded that the FIR be cancelled and that Rejaz’s phone, which had been seized, be returned to him. 

This report was republished from The News Minute as part of The News Minute-Newslaundry alliance. It has been lightly edited for style and clarity. Read about our partnership here and become a TNM Member here.

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