The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of publishers, editors and leading journalists, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, has condemned the blockade of two Malayalam newspapers in Kerala by CPI(M)-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) cadres.
Since October 22, CITU has been physically obstructing the distribution of Malayala Manorama and other publications of the Manorama Group in and around Calicut. The blockade was eventually extended to another daily, Mathrubhumi. The disruption has now spread to the neighbouring district of Kannur.
The disruptions are being linked to a recent series of reports in the Malayala Manorama.
"The political agenda is evident from the fact that the agitation started at a time when the Malayala Manorama was publishing a feature series on organisational problems in the state unit of the CPI(M)," said Ashish Bagga, president of Indian Newspaper Society (INS).
The IPI joined INS in condemning the agitation and urged the CPI(M) to unconditionally lift the blockade, which was affecting Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi, both of which are members of the IPI.
IPI board member and national committee chairman N Ravi said, "I would call upon state governments to protect the freedom of speech and the media from such attacks."
IPI executive director Alison Bethel McKenzie added, "All people have a fundamental right to knowledge about the world around them. Due to this blockade, thousands of newspaper readers in Kerala are currently being denied the right. We appeal to CITU and CPI(M) to end their attack on press freedom in Kerala immediately."