The Editors Guild of India, on Friday, December 29, condemned the Kerala Police’s move of booking a journalist for alleged criminal conspiracy after she covered a protest against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. “To cover protests is a media responsibility and is not a crime. A reporter's presence at a protest site does not make him or her complicit in any untoward incident that may have occurred,” the Editors Guild press release stated.
Vineetha VG, a reporter with the Malayalam news channel 24 News was booked in connection with her coverage of a protest organised by the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the Congress party’s students wing, against the Chief Minister. At the protest, which took place on December 10 during the state government’s outreach programme Nava Kerala Sadas, protesters hurled a shoe at the bus carrying the Chief Minister and other cabinet ministers.
The Kuruppampady police in Ernakulam district charged Vineetha VG with criminal conspiracy under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code and asked her to appear for interrogation. The police allege that Vineetha had been in constant touch with a few KSU workers, suggesting that she was aware of the planned protest.
“The Editors Guild does not condone any act of violence, it deplores in strongest words the police action against the reporter,” stated in the press release by The Editors Guild.
The Editors Guild also demanded the Kerala government desist from punishing the reporter for discharging her professional duty and instruct the police to withdraw the charges against the reporter.
Initially, the Kuruppampady police had registered a First Information Report against four KSU workers – Basil P, Devakumar T, Jibin Mathew, and Jaiden Johnson – under sections 283 (danger or obstruction in a public way), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), read with section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). On December 22, the police named Vineetha as the fifth accused in the case.