The city police on Wednesday picked up two foreign journalists on charges of trespass and filming without accreditation.
The police said that Alban Alvarez, a French national who works as a correspondent for the French news channel FRANCE24 in India, and Derek Mac Donald, a British national, were taken into custody from the Government Law College, Ernakulam, in the morning. After a preliminary round of interrogation, the duo was handed over to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer, Kochi, for further action.
“Mr. Alvarez possessed a journalist visa, though the validity of his accreditation by the Press Information Bureau had expired on December 31 last year. The British national, on the other hand, is on a tourist visa and during interrogation, he could not furnish documents authorising him to practise as a journalist in the country,” said Ananthalal, station house officer, Ernakulam Central.
According to the official, the duo was taken into custody on a complaint by the college principal that a couple of foreigners had trespassed on the campus without permission. “They had entered the campus apparently to shoot a rally organised by law students in connection with Valentine’s Day celebrations. They were refusing to leave despite repeated requests by the college management and following this, the police were called in,” he claimed.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the foreigners had come to the city along with a Keralite woman from Pune. Multiple attempts to contact the woman, however, did not elicit result.
Earlier in the day, the Law College premises witnessed chaotic scenes when the city police prevented students from taking out a march to St. Teresa’s College as part of Valentine’s Day celebrations. The students sought to resist the police move initially, but the police eventually succeeded in confining them to the campus.
According to the police, the march was prevented as the organisers had not obtained permission from the authorities. However, no cases were registered.
The students later accused the police of resorting to moral policing at the behest of the college authorities.