Journalists in Kerala held a protest march on Tuesday against Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, a day after he asked reporters from two Malayalam channels MediaOne and Kairali to leave a media briefing.
Kairali TV is backed by the ruling CPIM. MediaOne, operated by Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd, was barred from transmitting by the union government earlier this year over “security concerns” and is the only Muslim group-owned private satellite channel in India.
Yesterday, Khan said, “I won’t talk to anyone from Kairali…I will walk away. I hope there is no Kairali here. I hope there is no MediaOne here. Is there any MediaOne?” “Yes, sir,” said a journalist from the channel. “I don’t want to talk to you,” Khan said. “Get out. I won’t talk to you. And I won’t talk to Kairali. Please go away. I will not talk to MediaOne…I am clear, I am repeatedly saying since last 25 days, I will not. If you want me to go away, I will go away. I don’t want to argue on this.”
The march organized by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists ended at the Governor’s House.
The march was inaugurated by the leader of the opposition and senior Congress leader V.D. Satheesan. Former state finance minister and Left leader T.M. Thomas Isaac, CITU leader Anathalavattom Anandan, and Left leader and MP John Brittas were among others who participated in the protest march.
The KUWJ said it “decries all attempts on part of Kerala Raj Bhavan to interfere in the free and independent functioning of journalists and the selective denial of journalistic access”.
In a letter addressed to the governor, the journalist body asked him to “rethink” prejudices against some media houses and ensure that the right to practice freedom of profession is enjoyed by all journalists.
“The Kerala Union of Working Journalists is deeply concerned about the intolerance that Raj Bhavan harbours against some media houses. We strongly condemn the incidents at Ernakulam Guest house as well as the Delhi Kerala House where journalists were ousted by the Governor,” read the letter.
KUWJ said it was unfortunate that despite occupying a highly respectable constitutional position, Khan displayed blatant intolerance towards the media, and repeatedly insulted the Kairali and Media One channels’ journalists who were merely discharging their official duties, reported PTI news agency.