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Dear CM… give some advice to the police too

Dear CM… give some advice to the police too

A month has passed since the Kalamassery terror attack that killed six people. The investigation team is proceeding with the conclusion that only the accused who confessed and surrendered is behind the incident. Even before many details arrived, there were widespread attempts to incite hatred, communalism and anti-Muslim narratives through social and mainstream media. The investigative intelligence of some prejudiced officers in the police was also similar to that of these social media warriors. They started the investigation by keeping in detention some young people, who were involved in the Panaikulam case - fabricated by the same Kerala police several years ago - and who were acquitted by the highest court of the country after being convinced that they were innocent. It is well recognised that the top police leadership of the state has shown no small diligence and maturity in the Kalamassery issue. Though the sudden emergence of a man named Dominic Martin with the claim and evidence that he had done the blast disappointed the traders of hate, gave no small relief to the police and the common people of the country. If the person in question had not pleaded guilty, the case and narratives would have proceeded according to the script of the media and communal groups, and innocent people would have lost their sleep.

The all-party meeting convened by the Chief Minister on the very next day unanimously declared that the situation of spreading hatred against any creed should not be allowed and that the divisive powers who try to instill suspicion against any person, community or religious group are the common enemies of the country and the people. It was the kind of hatred the all-party meeting warned against that was spread by all those who took people quite unrelated to the incident to the police station and held them under suspicion, and those who raised false allegations against a community through TV channels and press conferences. Several media houses working inside and outside Kerala carried reports and analyses pointing out and questioning this. This kind of media work pointing out the wrong trend and standing in solidarity with those who are being unfairly persecuted should be welcomed in any case. It should also motivate those who have defaulted, be it authorities, organizations or individuals, to make corrections. However, now on the contrary a young journalist is facing a case and police investigation for writing such a report.

Rijas M Siddique, a freelance journalist working with Delhi-based online media' Maktoob Media' who wrote about the arrests based on suspicion conducted by Aluva Police, has been booked by the Vadakara police on charges of inciting riots. When the nation observed National Media Day, this reporter and editors were facing questioning. Just like the phones of the media workers were seized as part of the repressive measures taken against the 'NewsClick' web portal, which published reports unpalatable to the BJP government at the Centre, the reporter's phone has also been taken into custody by the police. What is the message that the Kerala Police intends to convey to the journalists through such a case? Is it to keep eyes closed when injustice is happening in front of them? Earlier, "Madhyamam" writer Dr. R. Sunil was booked for his report on tribal land extortion..

Last month, the Chief Minister of Kerala, while inaugurating the State Conference of the Union of Working Journalists, pointed out that fearless and independent media is possible only if the media organizations and media workers make corrections through introspection whether they are turning from being the watchdogs of democracy into puppet media. The Chief Minister, who is also in charge of the Home Department, should remind the police force about the freedom of religion, the right to life and freedom of media and expression as enshrined in the country's constitution with the same sincerity as he exhorts journalists about media ethics. We believe that the chief minister does not accept the process of unfairly detaining Muslim youths with prejudice. Fearless and independent media work will not be possible if those who point out the shortcomings of the police are silenced by charging them in cases.

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TAGS:Kerala CMPinarayi VijayanEditorialKalamassery blastmaktoob mediaRijas M Siddique
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