Journalists protest FIR against Tamil bi-weekly, others

Journalists from various media organisations protesting at the Chennai Press Club on Tuesday.

Journalists from various media organisations protesting at the Chennai Press Club on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: K.V. Srnivasan

Journalists from different media outlets and office-bearers and members of media organisations staged a protest in front of the Chennai Press Club on Tuesday, urging the Tamil Nadu government to withdraw a criminal case booked against journalists and directors of Tamil bi-weekly Junior Vikatan and others on a complaint given on behalf of a real estate company.

The protesters said the FIR was registered merely on the basis of unverified claims of the company that a person, named Kevin, had threatened to get defamatory reports published in mainstream and social media if he was not paid a ransom.

On a complaint from the real estate firm’s representative, the Mylapore police on Sunday registered an FIR against directors and journalists of Junior Vikatan and a couple of political commentators, who were active on social media. The firm alleged that Kevin, claiming proximity to those named in the FIR, had demanded ₹50 lakh every month, failing which reports tarnishing the image of the company would be published.

The complainant alleged that a day after the managing director of the firm was threatened by Kevin, the magazine published a report in January, insinuating that the company’s fortunes were soaring owing to its proximity to certain political power centres. Claiming that the managing director of the company was abroad and hence no immediate complaint was filed, the firm’s representative alleged Kevin had again threatened them recently.

However, representatives of Junior Vikatan pointed out that they had responded to a legal notice issued by the company in February and sought details of Kevin to verify the charge. The real estate firm did not respond. Besides, the publication said the first report was published much before the alleged conversation between Kevin and the real estate firm’s managing director.

The Mylapore police on Sunday arrested Kevin, besides naming “one identifiable person”; “persons concerned with the affairs of Junior Vikatan”, “concerned reporter and editor of Junior Vikatan”, one Maridhass and ‘Savukku’ Shankar .

Senior journalists, who joined the protests, argued that such a blanket arraignment of a host of persons unconnected with the alleged incident as accused in an FIR was unheard of. This amounted to a direct attempt to intimidate the media at the behest of a private party. Warning that the media and journalists could not be silenced through such tactics, they hoped Chief Minister M.K. Stalin would intervene and get the FIR withdrawn.

The police posted tight security at the venue of the protest.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 8:44:29 am |