Activists protest sedition charges against journalists

June 12th, 2008 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Narendra Modi

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Civil right activists and NGOs Thursday staged a sit-in protest against Gujarat government for its “fascist tendency” in filing sedition charges against journalists. The demonstrators used a new way to highlight their protest. They used an array of coloured umbrellas, which had written messages like “dictatorship”, “freedom of press”, “citizen’s right”.

Sitting in front of Gujarat Bhavan here, the agitators, including journalists, protested the move by Ahmedabad Police Commissioner O.P. Mathur, who slapped sedition charges on Times of India resident editor Bharat Desai, reporter Prashant Dayal and photojournalist Gautam Mehta last week for articles that criticised him.

Eminent social activist Shabnam Hashmi said “such an act is an attempt to scare the media from writing anything against Narendra Modi and his officials”.

Alleging that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was behind the filing of the charges, Hashmi said this was sixth case where a newspaper or journalist was being charged by the state government for their writings against the officials.

Prominent journalist Digant Ojha, who came from Gujarat for the protest, said they were against “the fascist tendency” of the government.

“In the last three years, five such cases have come up in which small newspapers have been targeted,” he said.

He termed such acts as a danger to “freedom of speech, expression and press”.

Editor of Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist magazine Liberation Kavita Krishnan said everyone should stand up to protect not only freedom of the press but all freedom of speech and expression “which are being suppressed by any ruling government”.

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