Kerala police have registered a case against a TV news anchor on charges of promoting communal enmity during a prime-time news debate.
Kollam city police registered the case against Mathrubhumi TV news anchor Venu Balakrishnan based on two complaints, one of them from a local leader of DYFI, the youth wing of CPM.
The debate that has attracted the case under Section 153 A of IPC was telecast on June 7. While discussing police atrocities, Venu made a reference to the alleged torture of a Muslim youth named Edadathal Usman, hailing from Aluva in Ernakulam.
The news anchor then stated, “Muslim brethren, you are observing the Ramadan fast even without swallowing saliva. The Chief Minister has disgraced you with such a stain. It is a state where a person, who has gone to break fast, was served with jail.’’
The news anchor was referring to the CM’s observation that Usman assaulted police and he had been involved in a case pertaining to the burning of a Tamil Nadu bus in Kochi in 2005 in protest against the judicial custody of People’s Democratic Party chairman Abdul Nazir Madhani, who was then an accused in the Coimbatore blast case.
Kollam city police commissioner Arul B Krishna said police have registered the case after obtaining legal opinion from the Director-General of Prosecutions. “When we get a complaint, we have no option but to file an FIR. We know this is a sensitive issue as there are chances to construe the case as against freedom of press. Hence, we sought the legal opinion from the state prosecution chief, who has reported the alleged comments invoke IPC sections for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,’’ said the commissioner.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the case against Balakrishnan was a challenge to media freedom. He said it shows Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is pursuing the path of Prime Minister Narendra Modi “who is trying to gag the press’’.