Kerala police raid Asianet News channel two days after SFI members intimidate staff
The police action against Asianet News channel triggered sharp reactions from opposition parties, with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling it “a sign of intolerance” and “an example of the fascist approach”.
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala police on Sunday raided the Kozhikode office of Asianet News channel, two days after members of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s student wing SFI barged into the Kochi office of the news channel and intimidated the staff over a “fake” news report.
The police action against the popular Malayalam news channel triggered sharp reactions from opposition parties, with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling it “a sign of intolerance” and “an example of the fascist approach”.
Soon after the police search, Asianet News tweeted: “Days after SFI hooliganism, Kerala Police conducts ‘search’ at Asianet News Kozhikode office. Regardless, Asianet News continues to report, true to its motto: Straight. Bold. Relentless. #AttackOnMedia #PressFreedom #AsianetNewsAttacked.”
Police, however, said the inspection was conducted in connection with its probe into a complaint filed by CPI(M)-backed legislator P V Anwar, who accused the media house of telecasting a fake interview as part of its series titled “Narcotic is a dirty business’’ in November last year.
In the interview, telecast on November 10, a 14-year-old school girl from Kannur alleged that she was abused after being forced to use synthetic drugs. Anwar later approached the police, saying that the interview was fake and shot with another girl.
The girl’s parents, however, rejected the allegation, maintaining that the channel’s correspondent did a detailed interview with her. “Whatever my daughter said in the interview is correct,” said her father, adding that she has revealed the truth to protect other girls.
A senior police officer, who was leading the team that arrived at the Kozhikode office, later told reporters here that the “search” was carried out as part of the investigation in the case.
“No documents have been taken,” the officer told news agency PTI.
On Friday, a group SFI activists barged into its Kochi office, 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.
A spokesperson of the channel said attempts to intimidate the channel will not succeed and it will approach the court against the police move.
The opposition Congress and BJP have condemned the police action.
“The party always talks big about media freedom and condemned the raid on BBC last week in strongest terms. But this is worse than the BBC raid. Pinarayi Vijayan has turned into another Modi 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.
HT reached out to the ruling CPI(M) for a comment, but it was not immediately available.