The Alliance for Media Freedom condemned the ‘illegal detention’ of two journalists from Tamil Nadu who had helped two French journalists investigate illegal beach sand mining in the state. Alliance for Media Freedom, a collective of journalists, has condemned the treatment meted out by the Kanyakumari district police to two Indian journalists who helped two French journalists carry out an investigation into illegal beach sand mining in the state.
Speaking at a press conference on behalf of the Alliance, N Ram, Chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group said, “We condemn the high handed and illegal detention of two Tamil Nadu journalists by the Kanyakumari police based on a completely false narrative on an issue involving media freedom.”
Two French journalists, Jules Giraudat, Deputy Editor of the Freedom Voices Network Team and Arthur Bouvart, an investigative journalist part of the same organisation, were named in an FIR by the Kanyakumari police on November 29 for allegedly trespassing government property. Two Chennai-based journalists, D Anandhakumar and M Sriram, had accompanied the French journalists “without any monetary consideration and purely in the spirit of extending fraternal courtesy and facilitation to professional colleagues,” according to the Alliance.
The Alliance condemned the ‘illegal detention’ of the Indian journalists whose phones had reportedly been snatched away by the police after hours of questioning by “representative of the Intelligence Bureau, State Intelligence, Q Branch, CID and other agencies.”
N Ram also slammed media houses across the state for ‘uncritically swallowing’ the official version of events as stated by the authorities. He had also termed Union Minister for State Pon Radhakrishnan’s accusations that the Frenchmen were part of a conspiracy and had arrived by sea as a falsehood.
Stating that the French citizens were accredited journalists, he also added that journalists were not exempt from the law. “Journalists are subject to the law as long as law is justly implemented. That is the position of Alliance for Media Freedom,” he said.
Also present at the meeting were senior journalists Sashi Kumar and convenor of Alliance for Media Freedom Peer Mohammed.
“Why were the two Tamil Nadu journalists illegally detained for two days? Why did the Kanyakumari police issue summons to the two Tamil Nadu journalists inside the DSP’s office after two days of detention? Was it not to cover up the illegality of the detention? Why did the Kanyakumari police insist that the Tamil Nadu journalists must not reveal to other other agencies(IB, Intelligence, etc.) that the journalistic enquiry concerned illegal beach sand mining? What is the reason for the contradictory statements and versions planted by the Kanyakumari police in this case?” the Alliance asked in a statement to the press.