The Madras Reporters Guild has condemned the attack on Kumudam Reporter journalist by unidentified assailants in Sivakasi. On Tuesday night, M Karthi, a journalist hailing from Virudhunagar, was brutally attacked and is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Sivakasi. Karthi, who was allegedly attacked with a sickle, sustained severe injuries in the attack.
The statement issued by R Rangaraj, President of Madras Reporters Guild urges Tamil Nadu Government, to investigate the attack and identify the culprits.
‚Äú[‚Ä¶] Tamil Nadu Government, particularly the police department to investigate the attack and bring to book the culprits. The Madras Reporters Guild urges the Government to ensure that journalists can function with freedom, and without fear,‚ÄĚ reads the statement.
Madras Reporters Guild has alleged that a report that recently appeared in Kumudam Reporter titled ‚ÄėRajendra Balaji ai veezhthuvara Rajavaraman?‚Äô that translates into ‚ÄėWill Rajendra Balaji be defeated by Raja Varman?‚Äô is the reason for the attack. The report hints at AIADMK in-party fighting between Tamil Nadu Minister for Milk and Dairy Development KT Rajenthra Balaji and Sattur MLA MSR Rajavarman.
An FIR has been registered based on a complaint filed by Karthi at Sivakasi Town police station under sections 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint), 294 (b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place) and 307 (Attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to the reporter, on the day of the attack, a man he suspected was Minister KT Rajenthra Balaji called him, but claimed his name was Arokiyam.
"I said that it didn't sound like Arokiyam's voice and asked what he wanted. He said that he has some evidence concerning Rajenthra Balaji and that it should be published as news. I told him that I can only move forward after consulting my organisation and cut the call." reads the FIR.
The reporter then left his house when he got another call.
"KTR called me and said he had something important to tell me. He said he doesn't want the call to be recorded and asked me to call from an STD booth. He said that I have some evidence against him. I asked who told him this and he said party men did. I told him I don't have anything and that even if I did I have to give it to my organisation. But he didn't believe that," the reporter told the police.
It was two hours after this that he was attacked near the Bell Hotel at around 8.30pm
Instances of journalists being attacked with threats to their lives is not unprecedented.
In June last year, journalist G Muthuvel who is employed with Polimer News was attacked by weapon-wielding men over allegations of caste bias. Tamil Nadu based forum of journalists, Centre of Media Persons for Change, 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.According to reports, Muthuvel was attacked while he was in his office and sustained serious injuries to his head, chest and arm.
In August that same year, a video of a police officer thrashing a TV reporter went viral. A scuffle in Kancheepuram‚Äôs Aththi Varadhar fest between the police and the reporter led to the violent attack that was condemned by many.