Three journalists were injured and their camera equipment damaged when they were manhandled by police who had arrived to provide additional security at the Srivilliputhur Mahila court, where a magistrate was hearing a case in connection to Madurai University's controversial sex for cash scam. The journalists told TNM that they were asking questions to suspended assistant professor and main accused Nirmala Devi when they were 'attacked' by the police.
According to reporters present at the venue, the increase in police security comes after Nirmala Devi spoke to journalists in the court on January 30. She had then accused the CB-CID sleuths of coercing her to obtain her confession statement. She further alleged in court that she was not able to secure bail due to political interference in the case. Her advocates have also said that she is being mistreated in prison and that her health is deteriorating.
When Nirmala Devi was leaving court on Thursday, reporters were trying to ask her follow up questions. But the police instead pushed them around and in the process injured three of them - senior reporter CN Radhkrishnan from Nakkheeran, reporter Manikandan from Sun TV and Rahul from Dinakaran.
"We were standing there and asking her who was threatening her in jail, who the real culprit was and whether she was beaten up in prison," explains journalist Radhakrishnan to TNM. "And suddenly the police started pushing us away and pushing her into the car. Clearly they are scared that she will reveal names of culprits," he added.
Even the lawyer of Nirmala Devi's alleged aide Murugan was not allowed to talk to reporters.
"When we asked the police why they were doing this, they said its because there is a High Court order against them talking. First of all, there is no order against an advocate talking. And second, Murugan and Karuppusamy have gotten bail from the Supreme Court. So all these gag orders have been overturned," explains Radhakrishnan. "Moreover, Nirmala Devi was rushed to the hospital recently and the police said it was due to a heart problem. But she has said in the past that her life is in danger in jail," he adds.
When TNM contacted Deputy Superintendent of police Raja over the allegations, he said, "Police did not assault the reporters in any way. It is all lies."
When asked why reporters were not allowed to approach the accused, he said, "There are orders that they cannot ask questions to these accused in court. They either have to go meet them in jail or get our permission outside of court."