CHENNAI : The arrest of journalist ‘Nakkheeran’ R Gopal on Tuesday evoked strong condemnation from almost all opposition leaders, except BJP.“It has created a doubt whether we are living in a democratic country or under a dictatorship. Why was similar action not taken against BJP leader H Raja,” DMK president M K Stalin told reporters after he met Gopal in a hospital where police took him for medical examination.
MDMK leader Vaiko, who was arrested after being denied permission to meet Gopal at Chintadripet police station, said, “There seems to be an undeclared emergency in Tamil Nadu. The Governor is misusing powers of police.” His cadre staged a protest after Vaiko was arrested. Other opposition parties issued similar statements expressing concern that the arrest of the journalist was a threat to free speech.
Editors, publishers and senior representatives of various media houses in Tamil Nadu have termed the use of Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code to arrest the editor of Tamil magazine, ‘Nakheeran’, R Gopal as “draconian”.In a statement here on Tuesday, they billed the attempt to prosecute Gopal as unprecedented and unheard of. “This section deals with assaulting the President, Governors, etc. with an intent to compel or restrain by criminal force the exercise of any lawful power by them. It is most unfortunate that the office of the Governor sought that a case be registered under Section 124 IPC against Mr Gopal and several others,” statement said.
The statement, signed by chairpersons and editors of news organisations including The Hindu, Dinamalar, Puthiya Thalaimurai, Ananda Vikatan and Times of India, also said that the move was a clear attempt to intimidate and gag the media. “If allowed, it will be a deadly blow to the freedom of speech and expression, of which the freedom of the news media is an integral part. The manner in which the arrest of Mr Gopal was executed was in flagrant violation of the guidelines stipulated by the Supreme Court of India,” the statement said.
On the rejection of the remand application by XIII Metropolitan Magistrate S Gopinathan, the statement said, “This is the finest tribute to the independence of the judiciary and to its commitment to upholding the freedom of the media, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”
The statement demanded the immediate withdrawal of the case against Gopal and others referred to in the complaint. The Madras Reporters Guild, Madras Union of Journalists and the Chennai Press Club also condemned the arrest as “reprehensible, undemocratic and against the canons of free speech and expression”.(With agency inputs)
Ponnar Suspects plot
Chennai: Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan on Tuesday said a conspiracy was being hatched to link Governor Banwarilal Purohit with the Nirmala Devi case right from the day the issue came to light. Responding to reporters, Radhakrishnan said he was suspecting that this was being done out of fear that the existence of many politicians would become a question mark.