There is palpable tension in the air as the lawyers-media spat has taken a turn for the worse with protests spreading to Kozhikode on Saturday.
The incident happened around 10 am at the Kozhikode first class magistrate court where the media had assembled to report on the ice-cream parlour case that was due for hearing.
The police personnel gathered there did not allow the media to use their mobiles and also prevented them from entering the courtt premises. The Asianet media team's OB (Outside Broadcasting) van too was confiscated.
The police arrested medaipersons who protested against the same, but later let them off. However, the police later clarified that they had merely taken the reporters into custody to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the lawyers.
Kozhikode Assistant Commissioner of Police said no case was filed against them and the arrests were made as a precautionary measure, according to reports. The police later apologised for their actions.
The police say they were acting on the verbal directions of the Zilla Judge. DGP Loknath Behra said that the police cannot disobey the court's orders. The DGP added that he has asked City commissioner for a report on the same.
Kozhikode Zilla Judge has however apparently given an explanation to the Kerala High Court Registrar over phone in this regard and denied giving any such directions. The judge claimed that he only asked the police to increase security around the court, as suspected Maoist Rupesh Paul was to be produced there.
The court officials too denied giving any such instructions to the police for arresting the mediapersons or for removing them from the court premises.
The state Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala called for stringent action against police officials for targeting the media. He expressed concern on the escalating tension between the media and the advocates and said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's ominous silence on the issue is disturbing.
Veteran CPI(M) leader VS Achuthanandan however was quick to condemn the arrests and has asked the DGP to act strictly against the officials concerned. Pinarayi has reportedly said that he would ocmment on the same after delving into what had actually led to the said conflict in the first place.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President (KPCC) president VM Sudheerran too has condemned the arrests. Meanwhile, mediapersons gathered in front of the Kozhikode Police Commissioner's office to protest against the high-handedness of the police force against the media.