A ‘mysterious explosion’ was witnessed in the ISRO campus in Tirunelveli on June 23, reported several news organisations on Monday. The visuals showed smoke rising from the location of the ISRO campus, and many reports said that local residents had heard a massive explosion. On Tuesday, the TN police registered an FIR against three journalists, after the Central Industrial Security Force guarding the ISRO facility filed a complaint against them for ‘spreading rumours’.
The three journalists have been identified Nagarajan, Raja Krishna and Antony Jagan. While Nagarajan and Raja work for Puthiya Thalaimurai, Antony works for Dinakaran.
The trio has been booked under sections of 505 (Statements conducting to public mischief), 507 (Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) and 67 of the Indian Penal Code.
The police case has triggered a strong reaction from the Chennai Press Club which has called this as a step to intimidate the free press.
“If the news is wrong, the organisation could have denied it. But in what seems like a way to intimidate the press, a complaint has been given and a case has been filed as such by the police. This is being seen as a threat to press freedom. We condemn this. Police should ensure the case is taken back,” the statement on Tuesday read.
The police registered an FIR even though there are videos of the smoke seemingly rising from the facility, and multiple media reports on the incident.
In a video published by Times Now, smoke is seen coming out of the facility from a distance. The report said that locals heard a loud explosion as the smoke started appearing from inside the compound.
Not only were there videos of the smoke, even a Public Relations Officer at ISRO had confirmed that the incident took place outside the agency building, a day after the incident was reported by media outlets.
“Incident happened outside the building and has nothing to do with ISRO. No damage to life and property," the PRO told news agency ANI.
However, Tirunelveli SP P Arun Sakthi Kumar said that the thud was of a limestone which fell at a distance of 15km from the ISRO unit, reported The Times Of India.