NATIONAL

T.N. Assembly urged to rescind order

NEW DELHI NOV. 10. The National Alliance of People's Movement has urged the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly to rescind the order to arrest the Publisher, the Editor, the Executive Editor and two senior journalists of The Hindu.

The national coordinator of NAPM, Medha Patkar, said in a statement that legislators were themselves responsible "for the erosion of people's faith in legislatures and democracy."

On the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker's stand that journalists enjoyed no special rights, she said, "Well said, Mr. Speaker. But how come the legislature gets the special privilege of the gagging voices of others pointing out its own misconduct?" It was time "to define and codify the so-called privileges of the legislative wing of our democracy."

The NAPM said it stood for the freedom of thought and expression of the press and of every citizen and that "every attempt to restrict or encroach upon this freedom, even by the press itself, is unpardonable".

Myanmarese journalists exiled in India described the action as an act of an "authoritarian regime, similar to what is happening in Myanmar, where those in power do not tolerate any objective writing and reporting of the independent media." A statement from Mizzima News and Burma Media Association said The Hindu was a "fearless champion of the freedom of the press...which had contributed immensely to objective journalism and the building of democratic India".

Tapan Sen, secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said the legislature's order was "a gross misuse of legislative privilege." And "yet another indication of the extreme intolerance of opposition or criticism by the Jayalalithaa Government." Calling on the Tamil Nadu Government to withdraw its resolution and refrain from using "intimidatory measures", the CITU said that its action was "an outrageous attack on the right to freedom of the press and the democratic rights of people."

The central Committee of the CPI (M-L)-New Democracy said the actions of the Jayalalithaa-led Government showed the attitude that once elected, legislators could do what they please with no regard to the rights of people, including those guaranteed by the Constitution.

The intercetption by plainclothes police from Tamil Nadu of the Editor-in-Chief's car in Bangalore, the CPI (M-L) groupings general secretary said, showed an "abrasive disregard for democratic norms".

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