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Journalists announce hunger strike seeking Naveen Soorinje’s release

Staff Reporter, The Hindu, Jan 5 2013

: Backed by the International Federation of Working Journalists, the
Karnataka Union of Working Journalists and the Bangalore Press Club, journalists
from across the State have decided to launch a three-day hunger strike at the
freedom park starting Saturday demanding the immediate release of journalist
.

The Mangalore district reporter for Kasturi Newz24, Mr. was
instrumental in exposing the July 28 attack by activists of the Jagarana
Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating a birthday
party at a homestay in . He was arrested on November 7 by the
police on charges ranging from “rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal
conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the
intention of outraging her modesty. The police also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of
The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.

Announcing the plan to go on hunger strike, President of the KUWJ Gangadhar
Mudaliar said that numerous memorandums had been submitted to the Chief
Minister, Home Minister as well as the Governor seeking the dropping of charges
against Mr. Soorinje.

Stating that all these “civil” efforts had come to nought, he said, “There is
growing insecurity among the journalists of the State, particularly those
working in rural and district centres. They are under constant pressure from the
police and the administration.”

He said, “The arrest [of Mr. Soorinje] should not be treated as an isolated
incident. It is the government’s way of scaring the entire fraternity
into silence.” Rubbishing the charges against Mr. Soorinje, he said, “Is the
camera a lethal weapon? Is reporting a crime now an offence in this State?”

Vice President of the Press Club Y.G. Ashok Kumar, said, “If we go to a spot to
report a crime, we journalists inform our editors not the police. Our job is to
report the truth and we are not police informers.” He also alleged that the case
against Mr. Soorinje is politically motivated. “The stand taken by his [Mr.
Soorinje’s] channel against the government is well known. It is an attempt to
target an anti-establishment news outlet,” he said.

Ravikrishna Reddy, the editor of the Kannada news portal vartamana.com, said,
“The courts, which have denied Mr. Soorinje bail, have been forced to act on the
basis of false and fabricated evidence presented before them. It is now up to
those who have fabricated this evidence to come clean and withdraw the cases
filed against Mr. Soorinje.”

Bageshree S., Senior Assistant Editor at The Hindu, said, “As part of our job,
we often go to cover riots, crimes and conflicts. If the police start charging
us under the same sections as the rioters or criminals, on the grounds that we
did not inform them, how can we perform our duty?”

 

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