Days after journalist G Muthuvel who is employed with Polimer News was attacked by weapon-wielding men, a Tamil Nadu based forum of journalists has written to the Press Council of India, seeking action against those accused. The forum, Centre of Media Persons for Change, has alleged that Muthuvel, who is a Dalit, was attacked as some dominant caste individuals were not happy with him working in the area as a reporter. In the letter, the forum has asked that the state government provides compensation for Muthuvel and security for journalists in Tamil Nadu.
On June 19, as per reports, Muthuvel was attacked while he was in his office and sustained serious injuries to his head, chest and arm. Muthuvel was rushed to a hospital and is undergoing treatment. One person, identified as Shanmuganathan, has been arrested under Indian Penal Code Sections 452 (house trespass after preparation for assault), 294 (b) (using obscene language), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons) and 307 (attempt to murder) as well as the provisions of the SC/ST Act.
However, according to a report in The Hindu, Muthuvel has alleged that Shanmuganathan acted at the behest of inspector Gajendran of Thattarmadam police station for negative reports against him.
“A few days ago, Inspector Gajendran made derogatory comments about lawyers and as a result, lawyers staged a protest outside the Thattarmadam police station. Muthuvel had reached the police station to cover the protest. Gajendran had warned Muthuvel not to broadcast this news. Muthuvel told him that he was doing his job and not to obstruct his work,” the forum has written in their letter to the Secretary of the Press Council of India.
On Wednesday, following a series of complaints against him, inspector Gajendran was transferred.
“Shanmuganathan, who was helped by Gajendran in his criminal activities, was angered that Gajendran had been transferred and his nexus would be affected. Caste hatred only fanned the flames,” the letter alleges.
The organisation has demanded that Gajendran be removed from service and that the inspector, Shanmuganathan, and the other assailants involved as well as other dominant caste individuals who were a party to the attack be arrested.
“Muthuvel was an honest journalist who reported on illegal sand mining and other illegal activities fearlessly...The attack on Muthuvel is an assault on the freedom of the press, speech and expression. What is worse is that the attack was intermingled with caste hatred. We are firm that the culprits should not get away with this. Those arrested must be charged with attempt to murder and under the Prevention of Atrocities to SCs and STs Act,” the letter adds.
The organisation has also demanded that the Tamil Nadu government provide adequate compensation to Muthuvel and also bring an Act to protect journalists while doing their duty.