On 16 November, National Press Day, the Editor of Maktoob Media, Aslah Kayyalakkath, was summoned and interrogated by Kerala Police in connection with a First Investigation Report over a news story. The suo moto case, registered by Vadakara Police Station names a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Maktoob, Rejaz M Sheeba Sydeek. He is booked under IPC 153 — provocation with intent to cause a riot.
Maktoob has learnt from the investigating officer that the news story titled “In Kerala, Muslim youths detained for hours following blast; accuse Kerala Police of anti-Muslim bias” attracted the case. According to the FIR, the case is registered based on directions from higher officials. The report covers the backlash faced by Kerala Police for detaining Muslim youth with no leads while probing the Kalamaserry blast in October 2023 that killed five people.
The reporter quotes community leaders and advocates who called out institutional bias faced by Muslims in Kerala by law enforcement agencies. The story includes comments from two police officers who were related to the incident.
We stand by the report and the reporter who is facing an arbitrary police investigation. We have reached out to the reporter and ensured legal aid from the organisation.
Unusually, the case is registered in the local station near the residence of the editor and police visited his house despite showing willingness to cooperate with the investigation.
The FIR threatens the journalistic independence of reporting stories without reprisal. The case reflects on the accusations made in the report under investigation. Maktoob has been singled out for reporting an important story that holds police accountable. The News outlet reports on multiple institutions and issues around the world daily.
Maktoob is an award-winning Indian news media that focuses on human rights and minorities. It has a reputation for high editorial standards. Maktoob upholds credibility and integrity as its core values. We call upon the Kerala government to quash the arbitrary case in a bid to ensure the safety of journalists in the state.