Malayalam television channel 24 News journalist VG Vineetha has been named as the fifth accused by the Kerala Police in the recent shoe-throwing incident at a bus in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was travelling, while she was reporting on the event.
Vineetha was covering the protest organized by the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student wing of the opposition Congress, during the state government’s statewide outreach program, Nava Kerala Sadas, on 10 December.
Following the protest during which a shoe was reportedly thrown at a bus carrying Pinarayi, the Kuruppampady police previously filed an FIR against four student leaders associated with KSU – state office bearer Basil P, and activists Devakumar T, Jibin Mathew, and Jaiden Johnson – under sections 283 (danger or obstruction in public way), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), along with section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). On 22 December, Vineetha was added as the fifth accused in the case.
Police and ruling CPI(M) allege that Vineetha had been in constant communication with a few KSU workers, suggesting that she was aware of the planned protest. They argue that as a journalist, she should have informed the police officers about the impending protest.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan, supporting the police action, urged the media to prove that there was no conspiracy. “There is no problem in doing journalism here. Now police have registered a case, saying there is a conspiracy. You say there is no conspiracy, so you can prove that. I don’t distrust this case,” said Vijayan today.
The Chief Minister said he would not reconsider the police move to slap the conspiracy charge as he was convinced that journalists were capable of such intrigues.
Recently, the Kerala Police have filed cases against several journalists, including Rejaz Sydeek for a report published on Maktoob alleging anti-Muslim bias by the Kerala police and R Sunil of the Madhyamam for addressing the alienation of tribal land. In June this year, Asianet News journalist Akhila Nandakumar faced charges after Students’ Federation of India (SFI) leader PM Arsho claimed she was involved in a conspiracy to question his exam results. The FIR sparked widespread outrage, and in October, the police informed the Kerala High Court that Akhila was no longer accused in the case due to a lack of evidence against her.