In the backdrop of the temple fire at Kollam that killed 108 people, this yearâ€™s Thrissur Pooram festival has been in the news not just for its extravaganza, but also for the fireworks display organised for the festival. Restrictions around the parading of elephants have been in the news as well.
Following widespread media coverage, two days ahead of the Pooram, posters against the media have come up on the festival grounds. TV channels who reported on the possibility of not conducting the Pooram, and held discussions critical of the festival, were urged not to cover the festival.
On Sunday, while the Pooram gained momentum as the day progressed, anti-media slogans were raised by a group of people who called themselves supporters of the festival. The media who were covering the festival live were asked to stop the coverage.
A reporter from a popular Malayalam news channel who did not wish to be named, said that groups of supporters raised slogans against the media at various times during the day, â€śI was present at the scene with my unit of 25 crew members for almost 48 hours covering the festival. Protests and sloganeering took place, some people came up to me individually and asked for clarifications. But none of us were subjected to any physical assault of any kind. We went there, did our job, and returnedâ€ť.
However, some reporters have alleged that the protests went beyond sloganeering. Sneha Mary Koshy, NDTVâ€™s Kerala correspondent who was on the ground covering the Pooram wrote a blog post on the NDTV website titled, â€śAt Thrissur Pooram, Stones, Bottles Thrown At Journalists Like Meâ€ť.
â€śI was reporting all day on air with the elephants as my backdropâ€¦But amidst all this, I could hear menacing slogans of "Go back, media" several times. Loud and clear. There were also specific chants made against a few regional channelsâ€¦ And soon, shoes, water bottles and stones came flying at reporters and their teams, including ours,â€ť she wrote. "
I heard cowards applaud as a full one-litre water bottle hit me," she wrote.