`T.N. Speaker should apologise'

NEW DELHI NOV. 10. Concerned citizens and intellectuals today deplored the Tamil Nadu Assembly's order to arrest the Publisher, the Editor, the Executive Editor and two senior journalists of The Hindu and the Editor of Murasoli terming it as ``undemocratic'' and ``constitutional'' and demanded the unconditional withdrawal of the same.

``This highly undemocratic act has to be seen as one more sign of increasing intolerance of the brute majoritarianism which in the name of safeguarding the dignity of the democratic institutions, tries to stifle and throttle voices of criticism and dissent'' a statement issued by Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) said. The signatories to the statement included Ramdas, Anupam Mishra, Ashok Vajpeyi, John Dayal, K.N. Panikkar, Farooq Shaikh, Harsh Mander, Krishna Sobti, Mahesh Bhatt, Nafisa Ali, Nandita Das, Namvar Singh, Pankaj Pachauri, R.S. Sharma, Raj Babbar, Rajendra Yadav, Shabnam Hashmi, Shubha Mudgal, Swami Agnivesh, Tarun Tejpal and Valson Thampu.

They demanded an apology from the Tamil Nadu Speaker, K. Kalimuthu, ``which he owes to the press in particular and the people of the State in general for having misused the privileges accorded to his office'' and added that the arrest orders issued against the journalists were an attack on the freedom of speech and expression.

Terming the action ``unwarranted'', the Union Chemical and Fertilizer Minister and senior Akali Dal leader, S.S. Dhindsa, extended his full support and his party's solidarity with the Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, N. Ram.

``We have always supported the freedom of the press and have stood with all those who have in the past defended against injustice,'' he said.

The Radical Humanist Association and People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) similarly labelled the action of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly as an open attack on the freedom of the Press. ``We demand that the sentence be immediately revoked and disapprove of the orders'' said a statement signed by V.M. Tarkunde, Sibnarayan Ray, Rajni Kothari and B.D. Sharma, among others.

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