Asianet News channel office in Kozhikode raided days after SFI protest
The news channel has said the police inspected computers and collected the address and phone numbers of its employees. Though the work was disrupted for some time it said it was fully cooperating with the probe
Kerala’s Kochi police on Sunday raided the office of popular Malayalam news channel Asianet News in Kozhikode (north Kerala) in connection with a case related to allegedly fabricating a news story.
The raid came days after activists of the Student Federation of India (SFI) allegedly forcibly entered the news channel office.
Police said the raid was related to a complaint filed by Left independent and Communist Party of India (Marxist)-backed legislator P V Anwar. Anwar had raised the issue in the state assembly on Friday and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan promised action.
The news channel has said the police inspected computers and collected the address and phone numbers of its employees. Though the work was disrupted for some time it said it was fully cooperating with the probe.
“Attempts to intimidate the channel will not succeed and it will approach the court against the police move,” a spokesman of the channel said.
Meanwhile, opposition parties have condemned the police action saying it was a move aimed at stifling independent media and asked the CPI (M) central leadership to react.
“The party always talk big about media freedom and condemned the raid on BBC last week in the strongest terms. But this is worse than the BBC raid. Pinarayi Vijayan has turned another Modi [Prime Minister] by silencing his critics,” said Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala.
“Police action reminds us of emergency days. This is another instance of growing fascist tendencies in the state,” said BJP state president K Surendran. The ruling CPI(M) is yet to react.
The issue relates to the complaint raised against the channel alleging that it carried a series “Narcotics is a dirty business” last year and reported an interview of a 14-year-old school student, who allegedly was a victim of a drug trade and sexual abuse, shown as part of the programme was fake and it was shot with another girl.
However, the parents of the girl have also said that the channel had done a detailed interview and ruled out the possibility of it being ‘fake’.
On Friday a group of SFI activists barged into its Kochi office and threatened its employees and later put up a banner saying the “channel was a disgrace to the state.”
Later police arrested six workers of the SFI on the basis of a complaint lodged by the TV channel after a case was registered against 30 SFI members based on the complaint lodged by the news channel accusing them of pushing away security guards and intimidating their employees.
The popular news channel is known for exposing the failures of the government such as the nexus between the state government and Swapna Suresh, the accused in the infamous gold smuggling racket. It has also unveiled irregularities and corruption inside the ruling government.