CPI(M) members attack journalist, friend who staged protest at Nava Kerala Sadas

Rejaz and his friend Haneen were demanding the withdrawal of a case against Rejaz, registered on October 31 alleging “provocation with intent to cause a riot”, for a news report in connection with the Kalamassery blasts.
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A mob allegedly comprising members of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) attacked an independent journalist and his friend while they were staging a protest against the Kerala government’s alleged attack on press freedom, at the Nava Kerala Sadas venue at Marine Drive in Ernakulam on Friday, December 8. The attack took place as the police were arresting the protesting journalist Rejaz M Sheeba Sydeek and his friend Haneen from the venue. A case under the Kerala Police Act was registered against them and they were bailed out several hours later. The mob also allegedly attacked a female Sub Inspector (SI) and another male officer. 

Rejaz and his friend Haneen were demanding the withdrawal of a case against Rejaz, registered on October 31 alleging “provocation with intent to cause a riot”, for his news report in connection with the Kalamassery blasts that occurred in October 2023. The news story, published by Maktoob Media on October 30, had raised allegations of anti-Muslim bias in the state following the detention of Muslim youths — formerly associated with the banned outfit SIMI — reportedly without leads, in connection with the blasts that killed eight people.

Rejaz and Haneen reached the Nava Kerala Sadas venue around 6 pm on Friday, carrying pamphlets in the name of the Democratic Students Association (DSA).  “Initially, some police personnel in uniform and civil dress noticed me and asked me to accompany them. I refused and threw the pamphlets into the air, raising the slogans ‘Inquilab Zindabad, Journalism is not a crime.’ People started picking up the pamphlets to read. Haneen also gave out some pamphlets. While we were taken by the police, a mob of CPI(M) goons stormed in and attacked us brutally,” Rejaz explained the incident on his Facebook post.

Along with Rejaz and his friend, a CPI(M) member who was mistaken to be a protester was also allegedly attacked and detained alongside them. Video footage from the Marine Drive shows the brutal attack on this CPI(M) member.

“I was kicked to the ground, stamped on my face several times, punched on my stomach and hands, banged on my head, and poked with items including a key. Haneen was also attacked brutally. CPI(M) goons showed no mercy and continued to attack us in the presence of police and children,” Rejaz said. He added that the mob didn't even spare a female SI and attacked her. “She was taken to the hospital along with another male officer, who got attacked because of wearing a civil dress.”

After a while, some police personnel wearing civil dress took them to the Ernakulam Central police station. “The police in civil dress were abusing me the entire time with filthy language, until I asked him to stop it. We were taken to the Ernakulam central police station and then to the government hospital for a medical checkup. Only our details were taken, and no medical care was given to us despite the visible injury marks on my body. Then we were taken to the station and detained for several hours without food. Our arrest was registered and we were bailed out later,” he said. 

After Rejaz’s news story was published and the Vadakara police registered a suo-moto case against him on October 31, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement condemning the case and asking Indian authorities to drop all investigations against him.

Speaking to TNM, the Ernakulam central police station Circle Inspector said the two protesters were raising slogans and distributing pamphlets even after being instructed by the police to move from there. “Then the people intervened and took them away from the venue,” he said. A case has been registered against Rejaz and Haneen under the Kerala police act. The CI refused Rejaz’s allegations that they were not given the required medical care.

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