Thiruvananthapuram: Branding independently dug out news items as "Fake News" , Kerala government has been trying to silence the media using its Information & Public Relation Department (IPRD).
The 'Fact Check' division of IPRD portrays news related to irregularities and procedural failures of different government departments as 'Fake News' in its official Facebook page.
The Fact Check division was formed recently to check the facts of news and messages. Publishing gazette notifications, departmental orders and file notes before its official publication is a usual media practice, and part of the media's attempt to inform the public of the workings of the government. Hence the Division's drive is an attempt to meddle with media freedom citing the reason that final notification has not been published yet.
One of the last such incidents happened to a news titled "Secret Files lost from Govt Central Press" which was published by Madhyamam on 12 August 2020. The PRD's division branded it as 'fake news' without verifying the facts in the news. The news item had said that top confidential files related to printing of OMR Sheets were lost from the government Central Press,Trivandrum.
The Madhyamam Report was based on the suspension order given by the Director of Printing and Press to an employee who was responsible for the incident.The order had also quoted the report of Section Heads which was prepared as part of investigation. The suspension order had also mentioned that the files related to printing of OMR sheets were deleted from the desktop and laptop used by the officer concerned and the same had become irretrievable.
Madhyamam had reported these facts along with the explanation of our Reporter on 13 August 2020. But the Fact Checking division branded the news as 'Fake' in its official social media account hiding these facts.
"The step is based on the explanation received from Director of Government Printing and Press" reacted Information Officer S Jaykumar when asked about the PRD division's action.
After our reporter pointed out the content of the suspension order, the official Facebook page of Fack check Division deleted the post within a few hours from its publication.
The Government and the supporters of the ruling party, CPIM have been intolerant towards those news stories which point out the irregularities of the government, ever since the Chief Minister's office has been accused of connections with gold smuggling case.