The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the police to provide adequate protection to offices of prominent Malayalam news channel Asianet.
The direction to the State Police by Justice N Nagaresh came on the channels plea claiming it apprehends “further violence and threats” from pro-Left student organisation SFI and CPI(M) youth wing DYFI and seeking protection against the same.
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In its petition, the channel alleged that on March 3 around 30 SFI activists forcefully trespassed into its Kochi office and intimidated the staff there with dire consequences.
It has also alleged that work there was interrupted and was stopped for nearly an hour by the miscreants who also “wrongfully confined” the staff for nearly an hour.
“The 8th respondent (DYFI) through public platforms and social media has declared they will launch all Kerala protest against the petitioner news channel.
“Barging into a media office is illegal and is a blatant attack on the freedom of press. The fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack,” the channel has said in its petition.
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Disposing of the plea, the High Court directed that protection be provided to the Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Kannur offices of channel.
It also ordered that in case of a possibility of conflict or violence, sufficient numbers of police have to be deployed.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, recently in the state assembly, had said that SFI activists had organised a protest march to the channel’s office against the making of an allegedly fake video, using a minor girl.
The video content amounted to spreading the misapprehension that government schools in the state were in the grip of drugs, the CM had said.
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He had also said that on the channels complaint a case was registered and eight persons arrested in connection with the trespass into its Kochi office.