The ‘undeclared’ ban on media on court premises across the State has entered the third week. State Police Chief Loknath Behera, who was in Kochi to attend a private function, spoke to Arun M and Rajesh Abraham about the issue. Behera says he has a plan to resolve the issue, which according to him is a blot on freedom of press, at the earliest.
Q. The situation has worsened after the Kozhikode incident. Do you have any specific plan to resolve issues pertaining to the restrictions imposed on mediapersons over reporting court proceedings?
A. Definitely, I am planning to convene a joint meeting of the Bar Council of India chairman and Press Council of India chairman Justice C K Prasad to devise a plan to end the crisis. In reality, no such ban exists at present.
Q. How do you expect the plan to work out?
A. I have communicated the matter to Justice Prasad, whom I know very well. I hope the meeting would take place very soon, and pave the way for a solution. However, I don’t know to what extent it would be successful.
Q. Mediapersons have decided to enter the High Court on Monday and start reporting court proceedings. Will the police provide security to them?
A. I don’t think there exists a situation wherein journalists should feel threatened. So far, many senior journalists have spoken to me and shared their views on ending the impasse.
Q. The State Police have received vital leads to the recruitment of Keralites to the Islamic State (IS) after converting them to Islam. Has the investigation made any progress after the arrest of Mumbai-based preacher Arshid Qureshi and Rizwan Khan?
A. I cannot divulge any information on the matter now.
Q. Don’t you find it surprising that youngsters from Kerala are lured by the IS, if the news reports are correct?
A. First of all, we have not (officially)confirmed that the (21) missing persons have joined the IS. Having said that, there could be many reasons for the youth getting attracted to such radical groups. As you know, it is a very sensitive issue and we need to tread carefully.