Raising slogans for freedom of press, journalists walked from the Press Club in Thiruvananthapuram to KUWJ headquarters.

Dark day for democracy Kerala journalists protest govt ban on Asianet MediaOne
news Protest Saturday, March 07, 2020 - 15:58

Mediapersons came out in protest in Thiruvananthapuram against the temporary ban on Asianet News and MediaOne for their coverage of the Delhi riots with a clear message — if today, they came down on two media channels, tomorrow it could be the rest of us, organisers said. The channels were restored in the early hours of Saturday after the Friday night ban but that didn’t stop journalists from taking part in a protest organised by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), a little before noon.

“It is a dark day for democracy – March 6. Two channels have been banned for reporting the truth about the communal violence that took place in Delhi, when attackers charged on peaceful protesters of anti-democratic and anti-citizenship act,” said KUWJ state president KP Reji. “Like our Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor asked, what kind of communalism can Malayalam channels inflame in Delhi? We know that north Indian channels did not respond to these riots properly. But we should not surrender to their methods of suppressing us. We should all come together in this fight.”

Raising slogans for freedom of press and against pushing the media into darkness, journalists walked from the Press Club in Thiruvananthapuram to KUWJ headquarters.

President of KUWJ Thiruvananthapuram Suresh Vellimangalam said that the ban was the central government’s attempt to move the media into darkness and let people be unaware of what was happening in the country. 

“They only want you to do what the central government asks, obey and report only what they need you to. But we can’t do that, that is the first step of destroying democracy. The Delhi riots have brought a bad name to India and the central government does not want people to know that. It is an undeclared emergency that India is experiencing now. First they attack the freedom of the people in Jammu and Kashmir, and the poor people cannot even protest it. The same would happen to the rest of the country.”

Press club secretary Sabloo Thomas reiterated that one cannot trivialise the ban as a one-off incident and there is no point in waiting to get out and protest till it comes in search of each of them.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had issued a 48-hour ban on Asianet News and MediaOne, alleging that their coverage of the recent riots in Delhi had been critical of the city police and could have resulted in violence. 

Asianet approached the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Friday night. Asianet resumed its transmission around 1.30am on Saturday and MediaOne at around 9.40 am. 

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