The harassment of the two journalists was triggered by a rift within Twenty20, a political group that governs the Panchayat.

Two journalists heckled by a group led by panchayat president in Kerala Rahil Hari (Left) and Riya Mathews (Right).
news Crime Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 20:05

Two journalists including a woman were allegedly heckled and verbally abused by a group of people led by the President of the Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam on Monday. The journalists from news portal Asiaville - Riya Mathews and Rahil Hari - had gone to Kizhakkambalam on Monday evening to cover the activities the panchayat.

Kizhakkambalam is the only panchayat in Kerala that is governed by Twenty20, a political outfit that was launched by a non-profit by the same name. 

Speaking to TNM Riya Mathews alleged that they were heckled without any kind of provocation. Detailing the events that unfolded on Monday, Riya said that she and her cameraperson Rahul Hari met businessman and mentor and chief coordinator of Twenty20 Sabu M Jacob. Following this, the two then met the former President KV Jacob, who resigned from the post last month. "KV Jacob was leading the panchayat administration for four years and he is the person who would be more thorough about the developmental activities so far.  Our plan was to meet one person after another for the story. After we met KV Jacob and another member, we were planning to meet the incumbent president Jincy Aji," Riya Mathews said. 

Riya narrated, "Soon a group of around 15 people, including women, along with the panchayat president came towards us and began questioning us." Alleging that the group was rude and verbally abusive, Riya said, “They got irked because we met KV Jacob. But I wonder how we can do a story without taking his version. I was trying to explain what my story was , but they didn't listen," she said.

The group allegedly stopped harassing them after the journalists began shooting the group's actions. Riya alleged that Twenty20 member Hafiz Hydros had led the mob, which tried to snatch her mobile phone and the camera from Rahil. “They were shouting that it won't be allowed if they had come to do story against the panchayat administration,” alleged Riya. 

Based on their complaint, the Kizhakkambalampolice have registered a case against Jincy Aji and Hafiz and those who can be identified under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (for voluntarily causing hurt) and 294 (for uttering obscene words in public). 

The harassment of the two journalists was triggered by a rift within Twenty20. KV Jacob, also a member of Twenty20, was forced to resign as Panchayat President after a no-confidence motion was planned against him. The motion was backed by 14 members of the Twenty 20 . Following Jacob’s resignation, he accused Sabu M Jacob of being autocratic. Sabu’s father MC Jacob is the founder of Kitex, a business group that back Twenty20. Sabu is also Managing Director of Kitex. 

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