Kerala opposition leader criticises case against TV news anchor
Congress leader VD Satheesan said the CPM leadership should look at the Kerala government move to implicate Vinu V John in a criminal case for criticising a party MP.
Kerala leader of opposition VD Satheesan on Wednesday condemned the police decision to slap a case against Asianet news anchor Vinu V John based on a TV discussion held three months ago.
Taking up the issue in the assembly, Satheesan said CPI(M) central leaders who talk big about right to free expression and press freedom should see the state government’s decision to implicate John in a criminal case for some observations against CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Elamarom Kareem.
“We all condemned the Modi government’s decision to slap a series of cases against Alt News editor Mohammad Zubair and his subsequent arrest. But in Kerala the government booked a news anchor for raising criticism against an MP. This is real fascism,” he said. Satheesan asked the government to withdraw the case immediately and not to intimidate journalists who carry out their job.
Later John, known for his cryptic comments and sharp observations, said he came to know about the case when he went to renew his passport. A senior police official told him that a criminal case was pending against him. He said that after checking with the police he came to know that a case was registered against him on April 28 under five sections, including 506 (criminal intimidation), of the Indian Penal Code.
He said the case was based on a debate on March 28 dealing with violence that broke put during the trade union bandh in north Kerala. Talking about the attack on an auto-rickshaw driver who was carrying some patients on the bandh day, he asked in the debate that if such an attack had taken place on the relatives of the CITU leader and RS MP Elamarom Kareem, what would have happened.
Later the party said it was a personal attack and carried out a march to Asianet News office and pasted posters against the anchor, giving him a “devilish look and branded him a criminal.” “The CPI(M) often talks about fascism. But I feel this is real fascism,” he said. The FIR said he gave an open call to instigate violence against the MP and insulted him and his family members.
Many political observers and senior journalists criticised the decision of the government. “The CPI(M) always propagates the role of independent media. But in Kerala the government never tolerates healthy criticism. This is nothing but intolerance,” said senior journalist Roy Mathew.