Asianet News, Kairali denied entry into Union Minister's office, journalist body objects

Crew of Asianet News and Kairali News were allegedly denied entry into Union Minister V Muraleedharan’s official residence in Delhi, while four other channels were let in.
"Since only a section of the media was barred, we think this is discrimination,” says Miji Jose P, President of KUWJ Delhi unit.
"Since only a section of the media was barred, we think this is discrimination,” says Miji Jose P, President of KUWJ Delhi unit.
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The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has written to V Muraleedharan, the Union Minister of State for External Affairs and BJP leader, after media teams of Kairali News and Asianet News were allegedly barred entry into the Minister's official residence in Delhi on Wednesday. The Delhi unit of KUWJ in the letter to the Minister has called the move discriminatory, as the reporters and camera crew of these two media outlets were prohibited entry, while the crew of four other media channels were allowed inside.

The incident happened on Wednesday when media teams of Malayalam news channels went to the Minister's residence for a reaction on senior IAS officer M Sivasankar being taken into custody. According to those who were barred entry, media teams of four other channels were allowed to take the reaction of the Minister while they were not.

The journalists also alleged that the media teams were screened at the gate by the security, and teams of Asianet News and Kairali News were made to stand aside.

“The security asked the channel name and when I said Kairali News, he telephoned someone and told Kairali News has reached. After cutting the call, the security asked me to stand aside," Vishnu Thalavoor, reporter of Kairali News told TNM.

He added that a while later, when the media crew from Mathrubhumi News, Manorama News, Janam TV and 24 News, came to the spot, they were let in, while Asianet News crew who were standing inside the gate were asked to leave. When asked the reason for the same, those who were denied entry were told that the Minister was busy.

KUWJ, in its statement, also said that the crew of all the six news channels were together but only two -- Asianet News and Kairali News -- were denied entry.

"It is your personal freedom and right to decide whether to react to the media or not. But since only a section of the media was barred, we think this is discrimination,” Miji Jose P, President of KUWJ Delhi unit, said in the letter to the Minister. We express our dissent on the discriminatory approach of your office towards the media who came as part of their job and responsibility to let people know the news, read the KUWJ statement.

It further added that the Minister's office also did not state enough reasons for denying permission to the crew of the two mews media firms. This discriminatory approach is not expected of someone holding a constitutional post, towards the media which is also doing its constitutional duty. "I convey the dissent of the journalists in Delhi respectfully for the KUWJ unit. It is also requested to direct your office so that such incidents don't recur," the letter written by KUWJ official stated.

In March, when the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry had banned telecasting by Asianet News and Media One citing the coverage of Delhi riots, V Muraleedharan had come out against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who slammed the Union government. Pinarayi had said that the country is in a state of undeclared emergency, after the channels were banned. Reacting to this, Muraleedharan had said CM Pinarayi ‘does not understand the constitution’ and that the ban was for violating the rules of cable transmission and broadcasting.

Meanwhile, in July, the CPI(M) had boycotted Asianet News debates citing that the channel was not giving enough time to the party representatives to make its stand on topics clear. The channel officials had come out stating that the allegation of the party was baseless. The party lifted its boycott after reportedly meeting with the officials of Asianet News and party chief Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

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