Kerala Journalists Union Holds Solidarity Meet For Newsclick, Condemns Govt Action
R Rajagopal, Editor at Large of The Telegraph, inaugurated the solidarity gathering organised by the KUW
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) organised a protest gathering in solidarity with Newsclick on October 9 in Thiruvananthapuram. The organisation was one among the signatories of the petition submitted to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, demanding the intervention on the attack on free press.
Speakers from several print and visual media organisations participated in the gathering, expressed shock over the invocation of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against journalists for merely doing the job and unprecedented number of journalists and staff raided simultaneously.
The KUWJ continues to organise solidarity gatherings and protests across all the districts in solidarity with Newsclick facing attacks from different agencies of the union government.
Inaugurating the gathering R Rajagopal, Editor at Large of The Telegraph, spoke at length about the challenges faced by media houses in raising dissenting voices in recent years.
“The FIR (first information report) against Newsclick is a milestone for journalism. It has claimed that services were affected since the organisation covered the historic farmers’ protest. How can we report any stories of agitation if we are charged with disruption”, he said.
Referring to the statement of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) criticising criminalising the protest, Rajagopal said, “The SKM has shown courage by refuting the allegations in the FIR. But I have not seen a comprehensive report of the FIR in any of the leading print or visual media, which has carried loads of details about the Asian games”.
A cultural protest and rally was held in Thiruvananthapuram by the Progressive Arts and Literary Association in solidarity with Newsclick.
Addressing the meeting, R S Babu, Chairman of Media Academy, termed the FIR against Newsclick as one against ‘all journalists’.
“The Delhi Police has raided columnists and contributors of Newsclick. Going by their argument, if some media appreciates the organisation of Asian Games in China, they can also be booked for hailing another country”, he said.
The solidarity gathering was named ‘We have Decided to Speak’, apparently against the efforts of different Union government agencies to muzzle the voices of independent media.
Rajagopal, referring to the name, said, “We have to ask ourselves if we are speaking enough. The actions of naming a lawyer as a key person for seeking legal aid is unheard of. The seizure of devices and other actions are against the fundamental guarantees under which journalism can be practised in modern and civilised society”.
The resident editor of Deshabhimani, V B Parameswaran, accused the government of instilling fear among the journalist community by carrying out raids and siesing gadgets. “Independent media companies, including digital media organisations like Newsclick are reliable sources and people trust such portals”.
Drawing parallels with the situation which prevailed during the Emergency, Parameswaran wondered why most editors were absent during the protest held in the Press Council of India immediately after the raids in Delhi. “Most journalists to whom I spoke over phone are living in fear. Putting journalists down for the job they are supposed to do is simply unjust”, he added.
The Purogamana Kalasahitya Sangham (Progressive Arts and Writers Association) held solidarity protests on the same day in solidarity with Newsclick. Several writers and artistes of repute took part in the rally held in support of ‘For the Freedom of Press and For the Freedom of Opinion’.
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