Karavali Ale lodges formal complaint with the Press Council of India

Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE: With certain alleged Hindutva groups in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada continuing to target the circulation of the Kannada daily, Karavali Ale, the paper’s publishers on Tuesday lodged a formal complaint with the Press Council of India, a quasi-judicial body, now headed by retired Supreme Court judge G.N. Ray.

Pointing out that letters by the Editor’s Guild of India and the Indian Newspaper Society to the Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, have had “no impact on the lawless situation in both districts”, editor-in-chief of Karavali Ale B.V. Seetharam has requested for the Press Council’s intervention.

Blaming the Bajrang Dal and the land mafia for attacks against the paper, he, in his complaint, says, “Mafia gangs have been ransacking vendors’ shops and burning bundles of the newspaper.” He has alleged that “The State Government is encouraging lawless elements by its inaction.”

Mr. Seetharam has asked for “immediate direction to the Karnataka Government to stop the persecution” of the paper and a “direction to the State Government to appoint a special enquiry authority of the status of Secretary of the Law Department”.

Citing that the attacks continue despite written requests to the Superintendent of Police, Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) and the Director-General of Police, he has asked the Press Council to issue a “direction for immediate transfer” of the top police officials of the two districts, including the Inspector- General of Police (Western Range) as well as the two Deputy Commissioners.

Circulation hit

The recent threats by alleged Bajrang Dal activists to newspaper hawkers in the city have created fear in their minds. If one were to go to a newspaper stall and ask for a copy of Karavali Ale, the seller would pick a copy from a hidden enclosure and hand it over cautiously.

Visits to several newspaper stalls here on Tuesday revealed that hawkers have become cautious of who they sell the copies to — only when they are sure that the buyer is a genuine reader, do they part with a copy.

While this has not deterred some of them from selling the newspaper, there are also those who have given in to the threat and stopped the sale of the daily.

A stall owner in Hampankatta alleges that he was “threatened” by a few men two weeks earlier for selling the paper. He said that the same men attacked other stalls that sold the daily. Undeterred by the threat, he continues to sell the paper but says that he “lives in constant fear”. Hawkers in Milagres, Kankanady and Magaladevi have stopped selling copies of the paper.

In Kankanady, some shopkeepers claim that the paper is not being supplied to them and refused to divulge further details. A stall owner on the condition of anonymity revealed that though he had stopped selling the paper for 10 days, he has resumed selling it now. In Magaladevi area, hawkers complained that they are not being supplied the paper.

In the narrow bylanes of the State Bank area, stall owners show no hesitation. “For one day I had kept the newspaper in hiding but with the encouragement of buyers, I now sell it openly,” says a shopkeeper who did not want to be named.

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