Kerala Police pick up journalists from court premises, apologise later

Kozhikode : Police officials on Saturday forcibly took away four media persons attached to Asianet TV channel from a magistrate’s court here to the Town Police station, in a fresh turn to the already tense relations between the lawyers community and media persons in Kerala.

Sub-Inspector of Police P.M. Vimod allegedly manhandled the mediapersons who had entered the court premises to cover the day’s important cases.

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The police official said the Kozhikode district judge had asked the police to remove the media personnel from the court premises.

Following a huge media outcry, the four Asianet TV officials were allowed to leave the station and a senior official attached to the Town Police apologised for the turn of events.

“We demand appropriate action against the inspector and two police officials who acted rashly towards us,” said Binuraj, the Asianet correspondent.

Recounting the events, Binuraj told reporters: “We had just arrived in the compound of the magistrate court. Soon after the local sub-inspector came menacingly towards us and said they are taking us and the driver of our vehicle to the police station. They behaved with us as if we were terrorists. In the station too they behaved very badly with us.”

The Kozhikode district judge clarified that there was no direction to police to prevent the media from entering the court premises.

The clarification was provided to the High Court registrar general.

In the state capital, journalists took out a silent protest march by covering their mouths with black cloth.

Relations between the media and the lawyer community in Kerala have gone from bad to worse since the past 10 days after trouble first began in the Kerala High Court premises in Kochi. Tension between both factions also erupted in the state capital, and a few days ago the lawyer community prevented the media at Kollam from covering the judgement of a controversial murder case.

Former lawmaker, advocate and fellow traveller of the CPI-M, Sebastian Paul said the current situation in the state reminds him of the scenario in 1975 (Emergency).

“The sequence of events happening in our state does not augur well and it’s time the state government acts,” said Paul.

John Brittas, who heads Kairali TV channel – the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-backed TV channel and is also media advisor to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, deplored the events at Kozhikode.

“This should not have happened; the media should get the space and the freedom to work,” said Brittas.

Leading lawyer Udayabhanu said to his knowledge there has been no written order from the Kerala High Court to ban the entry of media personnel into the courts.

Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that Chief Minister Vijayan should speak out on the incidents.

“He has turned out to be an abject failure in resolving the issue and remains a mute spectator. He should ask the advocate general to settle the issues between the media and the judiciary as it’s spreading to all parts of the state. Such a situation has never happened earlier,” said Chennithala.