Gujarat journalists meet governor over scribes’ sedition charge

June 4th, 2008 - 12:27 am ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, June 3 (IANS) A group of 50 journalists Tuesday met Gujarat Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma and Director General of Police P.C. Pande and sought their intervention in a sedition case filed by Ahmedabad Police Commissioner O.P. Mathur against three journalists. Pande told the group that the case was not against the media per se but against three individuals.

Mathur Sunday filed a first information report (FIR) against Times of India resident editor Bharat Desai and reporter Prashant Dayal, apart from Gautam Mehta of the Gujarat Samachar, under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 124-A (sedition) and 34 (defamation and conspiracy against the state and the police force) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The move came after the Times of India published “a series of documented investigative reports” that questioned Mathur’s “competence to guarantee the security of the people of Ahmedabad, which is high on the hit list of terrorists”, the newspaper noted Monday. The reports linked Mathur with Abdul Lateef, an alleged don who was killed in a police shootout a decade ago.

A memorandum, with signatures of 210 mediapersons, submitted to the governor said: “We the members of the media - print, television and others - collectively protest against the police complaint…and condemn the charges as a direct attack on the freedom of press guaranteed by the constitution.

“We request you to look into the matter and advise the police commissioner to withdraw immediately (the) police complaint,” the memorandum added.

Rights organisations have also been campaigning against the police case.

The Gujarat unit of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), in a memorandum to the governor, said: “The action of the police is highly deplorable and is a direct assault on the freedom of press, which is considered as the fourth estate in a democratic country.”

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