National

Police high-handedness bolsters govt’s media-unfriendly image

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on January 18, 2018 Published on July 31, 2016

The detention and harassment of two mediapersons after barring them from reporting at the Kozhikode district court by the police has come as an embarrassment to the Pinaryi Vijayan government even as the embers of last week’s clashes between lawyers and journalists are still smouldering.

The apparently wanton abuse of power by a sub-inspector at the Kozhikode town police station on Sunday drew criticisms from a spectrum of political parties as well as cultural organisations and activist groups. Political leaders who condemned the police action included Congress State president VM Sudheeran, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, senior CPI(M) leader VS Achuthanandan and CPI(M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The officer has now been placed under suspension and booked for the outrageous behaviour against the mediapersons. The State Police Chief has expressed his regret over the incident.

The sub-inspector had barred a TV channel news team from entering the premises of the court claiming that the judge had ordered him so (this later turned out to be false). On questioning the veracity of the order, the reporter and cameraman of Asianet were forcibly taken into custody, sent to the police station and put in the lockup.

They were also physically assaulted and verbally abused by the SI. Their broadcasting van was also seized. After hours of agitation by journalists in the city, the two were released on the orders of senior police officers. The SI was placed under suspension.

The incident, which shocked sections of society, was widely condemned. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is also the Home Minister, is at the receiving end. It is a double whammy for Vijayan as the blame for last week’s clashes between lawyers and journalists finally reached the doors of the LDF government.

The government was blamed for not effectively intervening in the feud between the two groups which spread to several courts in the State. Added to these is the Chief Minister’s image of being unfriendly to the media.

Published on July 31, 2016
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