BJP flays ‘Mangalam’ journalists’ arrest; says press freedom being curbedtext_fields
Kottayam: The BJP Wednesday flayed the arrest of a TV channel journalists allegedly for airing the purported sleaze talks of a minister leading him to quit and said “the press freedom is being curbed in Kerala” by the government.
Five persons, including the CEO of ‘Mangalam’ channel, were arrested late last night allegedly for tricking erstwhile Transport Minister A K Saseendran to talk to a woman in sexual undertones in a sting operation using a female reporter of the channel.
Speaking to the reporters here, BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan alleged that the press freedom is being curbed in Kerala under the CPI(M)-led LDF government.
Noting that Saseendran has filed no case related to the incident, he alleged the channel employees were arrested to tell media persons that they would be put behind bars if matters hurting the government’s interests are reported.
“It is a warning to the media. The audio clip aired by the channel says it was Saseendran who had engaged in a lewd phone conversation with a woman. So he should be interrogated,” he said.
The police had last week lodged an FIR under various sections of Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code against nine persons, including channel’s CEO Ajit Kumar, on a complaint by the youth wing of Nationalist Congress Party, for airing the “obscene conversation.” On its opening day March 26, the channel had aired an audio clip of the purported talk of erstwhile minister Saseendran, NCP representative in the LDF cabinet, with a woman, following which he had resigned the same day.
It had later tendered an apology for airing the contents and admitted it was a “sting operation” involving one of their woman journalists and not a housewife, as it had claimed earlier.
The state government had on March 30 ordered a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the incident.
The government had also earlier set up a judicial panel under former district judge to probe the matter.
Rajasekharan also slammed the government over the police action against the parents of an engineering college student Jishnu Pranoy, who allegedly had committed suicide. The police had allegedly acted against Pranoy’s parents for trying to stage an indefinite fast in front of the DGP’s office in Thiruvananthapuram.
He said the party has called for a dawn-to-dusk strike in the state tomorrow in protest against the “police brutality” against Jishnu’s mother.