The Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the apex body of the print media industry, on Wednesday “strongly condemned” Kerala Police’s decision to register an FIR against Venu Balakrishnan, an anchor with Mathrubhumi News television channel, accusing him of creating communal hatred during a news programme. On Monday, the Editors Guild of India had condemned the police action, calling it “reprehensible and an attack on the freedom of the press”.
In a media release, the INS on Wednesday said “frequent attacks on the media through such naked abuse of power pose a grave threat to the freedom of the press and assail the right to think, express and speak freely in our democratic country”. It urged the Kerala government to “immediately drop these proceedings”.
In its statement, the Editors Guild had said, “The Guild understands that what Mr Balakrishnan said as an anchor of the show has been taken out of context and made the basis for lodging the FIR…. The Left-ruled state of Kerala must take note of this unfortunate incident, engineered as it is by a group affiliated to the ruling party, and ensure that the police is restrained from taking any action that undermines the freedom of the press and the justice delivery system.”
The FIR was registered against Balakrishnan on the basis of two complaints, one of them filed by a local leader of the DYFI, the youth wing of the CPI(M), which leads the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala.