MANGALURU: Justice V Gopala Gowda, former judge, Supreme Court, was on Tuesday denied permission to hold a press meet in Mangaluru. He was to apprise the media of the observations of a People's Tribunal led by him to hear the witnesses of Mangaluru Violence and come out with a fact-finding report.
First, the press meet was scheduled at Hotel Woodlands but the hotel management refused to cite 'lack of permission' for the same from the police department. Then, the organisers checked with seven other hotels in the city and all refused to cite the same reason. Ultimately, the Tribunal had to cancel the press conference.
Speaking to reporters, senior journalist Sugata Srinivasaraju and former State Public Prosecutor who are the other two members of the Tribunal, said the authorities not allowing a former SC judge not to hold a press meet speaks about the 'situation in the country'.
In a release, the Tribunal said “...under pressure from police authorities, it has become impossible for the People’s Tribunal to hold a Press Conference at any venue.... Permission from police authorities is not required in law. The public has a right to know of matters concerning violence against civilians as the police authorities are accountable to the people with regard to the events of December 19. Therefore, with a fair mind, we will go into the testimonies of the witnesses that we have collected and prepared a final report that will stand the test of credibility in the eyes of all the concerned with regard to the incident.”
It said the very conduct of the proceedings of this Tribunal was sought to be interfered with by the Mangaluru Police Administration on multiple occasions with a deliberate intention to see that the truth of the incident shall not be disclosed to the public. It is still unclear on what grounds the notice was issued. Despite the Organisers’ insistence that the People’s Tribunal was a civil society initiative to create a public forum where grievances could be aired by the aggrieved persons and the public, the Police authorities alleged that this process interfered with on-going legal proceedings including a magisterial enquiry.
“It must be stated that the Tribunal does not seek to make observations on the anti-CAA protests that have been organised in Mangalore and other parts of the country. The observations of the Tribunal are limited to the events of December 19. A final report will be placed before the public soon.”
The Tribunal over the course of the past two days, heard testimonies from victims, victims’ families, families of the deceased, media persons, doctors and hospital administrators. The testimonies will help the Tribunal to ascertain the nature of the events that transpired on December 19. The Tribunal has also collected copies of the complaints lodged by the aggrieved, video footage, photos, medical records, and other material evidence to check the veracity of the claims made regarding the violence and will come out with a fact-finding report