Activists have condemned the inclusion of two journalists in the charge sheet filed by the police in connection with the July 28 attack on men and women attending a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Dakshina Kannada district secretary B. Madhava said inclusion of Naveen Soorinje, a reporter with Kasturi news channel and Sharan, the cameraman of Samaya news channel, in the charge sheet was akin to shooting the messenger. “They just did their duty. Without them, the world would not have come to know of the ghastly attack. This is nothing but an attack on the freedom of the press,” he said.
Activist Vidya Dinker questioned the credibility of the charge sheet and said the police had not conducted investigations in a transparent manner. She said the police had failed in providing documents such as call records, station house diary and other details sought by Vijayakumar, the complainant and victim of the attack, under the Right to Information Act.
Ms. Dinker, who has been fighting on behalf of the attack victims, said it was wrong to include Mr. Soorinje along with other persons. “He was never a part of the attacking group and has not been in touch with the latter. He turned up in response to the information he received. In fact, Mr. Soorinje’s presence saved victims from being portrayed in a different manner,” she said.
Democratic Youth Federation of India Dakshina Kannada district secretary Muneer Katipalla was also of the same opinion. “This only shows the police were not happy with the media’s portrayal of the inhuman attack by Subash Padil and his group.” Mr. Katipalla sought the intervention of the State government to withdraw the charges against the two journalists.
Complainant Vijayakumar was not willing to comment on the charge sheet. “The incident has drained me a lot. I just want the case to be over as fast as possible,” he said.
Defending the charge sheet, Assistant Commissioner of Police T.R. Jagannath said they had collected evidence to prove charges against all the 44 accused. Only 24 have been arrested so far. He said there were call records to show the two journalists had been in touch with Subash Padil hours before the attack. He denied about calls that were made by the two journalists to the jurisdictional police, alerting them about the attack.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vijayakumar said he was attacked again on August 16. “I was attacked when I went to see ‘mosru kudike’ at Attavar,” he said. He has lodged a complaint with the Mangalore South police station. He has now relocated to Bangalore and is searching for a job.