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Updated December 24th, 2023 at 02:44 IST

Media outcry as Kerala journalist becomes 5th accused in shoe-hurling case

The actions by police against the media for merely reporting incidences have led to the media fraternity questioning the Left in the state.

Aswin Nandakumar
Media outcry as Kerala journalist becomes 5th accused in shoe-hurling case
Media outcry as Kerala journalist becomes 5th accused in shoe-hurling case | Image:Republic
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The CPIM LDF under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan has reached the last leg of the Nava Kerala Sadas, a campaign where the CM and his cabinet toured 140 constituencies. The actions by the police against the media for merely reporting incidences have led to the media fraternity questioning the Left in the state. 

In a bizarre move, a Malayalam TV channel reporter Vineeta VG from News 24 was arraigned as a fifth accused in a case connected to the hurling of shoes by KSU activists on December 10 at Odakkali in the suburbs of Ernakukam. 

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Along with it, the Ernakulam Bureau Chief of the channel was issued notice under 160 CRPC by Kurumpambady Police in Ernakulam district. 

Republic accessed the notice sent by the police to the reporter under 41(A) of CRPC where it asked Vineeta to appear before them on December 22. 

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"We have reasonable ground to question you and ascertain facts in the case," stated the notice sent by investigating officer Sajeeve MK Kurruppambady Police Station. 

During the Navakerala Sadas, four individuals were charged by the police for allegedly hurling shoes under IPC Sections 283, 353, 34, and 308. 

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One shoe hit the bus while the other landed on the windshield of the security escort vehicle. Vineetha, the fifth accused was also charged under section 120B of the IPC. 

However, the police faced strong reprimand for invoking IPC Section 308 against the accused, resulting in the court granting bail to all four. It is in this case that the journalist was arraigned as the fifth accused. 

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We all will go to jail: Sreekantan Nair

"Vineetha VG will not go to jail alone in this case," said 24 News Editor-in-Chief Sreekantan Nair. She added that all her colleagues would face arrest and if the journalists on duty cannot do their work independently, they will shut this news channel. 

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Nair said that the right of a woman to do her job has been challenged. The chief editor also demanded that the police officer who charged her with serious charges should be suspended. Nair stated that the case would be dealt with legally.

Kerala Union of Working Journalists condemns incident

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The action against a news reporter was officially condemned by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) State Secretary Kiran Babu. 

Kerala Chief Minister backs police's action

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Meanwhile, Pinarayi Vijayan supported police action against the journalist by claiming that it was backed by evidence. 'We can't entertain journalists conspiring," he said. 

The Chief Minister demanded, “If the journalist is not an accused, let her clear her name in the case.”

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Minister of Culture Saji Cherian also stated that police won't take such action unless they have sufficient evidence against the reporter. 

Opposition condemns as act against press freedom

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"The Pinarayi government is hurting democracy by curtailing the freedom of media. The left government's action is an encroachment on the freedom of protest and expression," stated Congress state president K Sudhakara. 

He condemned the action taken against the journalist by the cops and demanded, "The government should be ready to withdraw the case and restore media freedom," he demanded.

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Curbing press freedom is yet another feather in the crown of the Nava Kerala Sadas of Pinarayi Vijayan cited Rahul Mankootathil, state president of Youth Congress.

Fake video circulated, claims media channel

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A fake video was also circulated alleging that the channel reporter instigated artists to throw shoes. The channel then fack-checked the video and clarified that the part where the cameraman is told to 'take a visual' by Vineeta was cut out and the audio was muted and replaced with a graphic text saying 'throw shoe.' The video has been circulating in cyberspace since then.

Previous instances of Marxist Party attack on press freedom

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Four reporters who were covering the BJP Mahila Morcha protest outside the DGP office were also booked for trespassing with mobile and video cameras into the latter's residential area. 

A few months ago, another woman journalist was arraigned as an accused in a case related to an issue at university where the reporter was incidentally at the spot when a political event unfolded. 

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Cops came across a conspiracy angle in the case, reprimanded the reporter and filed a case against her for allegedly trying to defame the Students Federation of India (SFI) - CPIM's student wing.

"I was in hiding for over 1.5 months and just came out after securing bail," stated Sajan Scaria, editor of Marunadan Malayali to Republic. 

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Sajan who runs a prominent online news portal with millions of followers has been targetted with a plethora of cases across the state, with full support by the state. 

The online channel offices were raided; women journalists' homes were raided at night. "They are piling me with cases so that it will restrict me from focusing on my journalistic job," Scaria stated.

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The state tried to pass a draconian law by amending section 118A of the Kerala Police Act two years ago, where an ordinance was brought in to punish those insulting or abusing the Internet and gave sweeping power to the police to prosecute. 

However, owing to massive public outpour and pressure from the CPIM polit bureau, Vijayan scrapped the plan.

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In 2022, the CPIM leader filed a case against the prime-time anchor of a Malayalam news channel for a comment during a television debate.

 

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Published December 23rd, 2023 at 21:29 IST

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