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Rajat Sharma slams FIR against Mathrubhumi News scribe by Kollam Police

Rajat Sharma, President, News Broadcasters Association (NBA), has slammed the registration of an FIR against Venu Balakrishnan, Deputy Editor & News Anchor of Mathrubhumi News TV channel by the Kollam Police in Kerala. 

In a letter dated July 23, 2018 addressed to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Sharma mentioned that the matter was brought to the NBA’s notice by Mathrubhumi News Television, a member of the Association. 

Providing details of the case Sharma wrote that the FIR against Balakrishnan was filed following a complaint filed by local leaders of DYFI, the youth wing of the ruling CPI (M), under Section 153 A of IPC for initiating a discussion on the channel on June 7, 2018 in the Super Prime Time on an incident involving the torture of a young Muslim by the Police and the ruckus in the State Assembly following Police atrocities. He added, “It is understood that the opening sentences of the anchor’s comment was taken out of context and a case foisted against him.” 

Continuing further, Sharma wrote that while the NBA maintains that no individual or institution is above the law, it condemns any attempt to muzzle the media and causing any interference in the free functioning of news operations. 

“Such a move also undermines the basic tenets of free speech enshrined in the Constitution of India,” he stressed, adding, “Media is providing a service that is essential for any democratic society and keeps the public informed and hence must be protected by the law enforcing agencies. NBA considers the police action against the anchor, based on the FIR, unacceptable and an attack on the freedom of the press.” 

Sharma requested the Chief Minister and the State administration to ensure that journalists and media persons were allowed to perform their duties in a “free and fearless manner”.

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