Journalists and civic society representatives carried out a series of protests against the arrest of Kasturi News 24 channel reporter Naveen Soorinje in connection with the July 28 attack on men and women attending a party here.
Dakshina Kannada Working Journalists Association president Harish Rai, who led a protest, deplored the action of the police in charging a journalist, who had performed his professional duty by bringing to light the attack on innocent party goers, with a crime. Reporting the incident was not only his right but his duty as a professional, he said.
Mr. Rai said that when the names of Soorinje and Sharan, a cameraman of another television channel, first figured in the FIR, the then Police Commissioner Seemant Kumar Singh had told the media fraternity that the two names would not figure in the charge-sheet. Mr. Singh had also assured of forming a committee of journalists and police officers to look into the matter. But the police had gone back on the promise, he said.
Mr. Rai demanded re-investigation of the charges made against the two journalists. He urged the State government to drop the charges against them. Journalists in the district would be wearing black bands around their waist as a mark of protest while attending government functions, he said. Mr. Rai, accompanied by other journalists, submitted a memorandum to Police Commissioner Manish Kharbikar.
Earlier, a group of personnel from TV channels staged a protest in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner. This was followed by a protest by representatives of several like-minded social organisations, including the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the Janata Dal (Secular), the Students Federation of India, the Mangalore Citizens Forum and the Rationalists Association of India.
DYFI Dakshina Kannada District Secretary Muneer Katipalla said Soorinje had been victimised for being the voice of the oppressed.
He demanded action against the police inspector who had been accused of having spoken to Subash Padil, leader of the group involved in the attack, before the incident.
The police arrested Soorinje on Wednesday night following a non-bailable warrant issued by the Second Judicial Magistrate First Class after the police filed a charge-sheet in the last week of September. Soorinje and Sharan are among the 44 charged with abetment in outraging the modesty of women and dacoity. The police have arrested 29 persons in the case.