Journalists stage protest against Ahmedabad police chief

June 2nd, 2008 - 8:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, June 2 (IANS) Over 300 city-based journalists Monday held demonstrations outside the Ahemdabad police commissioner’s office, protesting a sedition and defamation complaint filed against two scribes for a series of articles critical of city police chief O.P. Mathur. The traffic on the busy Shahibaug Road was affected for over an hour and half as the slogan-shouting journalists gathered outside the city police commissioner’s office.

Dilip Patel, a senior journalist, said mediapersons will petition to Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma and the home secretary.

City police commissioner Mathur, meanwhile, did not turn up at the office.

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

The move came after the Times of India published “a series of documented investigative reports” that questioned “his 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, a don who was killed in a police shootout a decade ago.

The FIR also named Gautam Mehta, a photojournalist with the Gujarati daily Gujarat Samachar, who once worked with the Times of India.

Mehta told IANS: “I am surprised to see my name in the FIR. I don’t know in what way I am connected. I left ToI 10 years ago when I was a crime reporter there.”

A police complaint was also filed last week against noted political psychologist and commentator Ashis Nandy for writing an article allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and language.

Rights activists have criticised the police moves.

The Gujarat unit of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) condemned the sedition case against the journalists. SUCI state secretary Dwarika Nath Rath said the police action was a direct assault on the freedom of press.

“SUCI demands the withdrawal of the charge of sedition and conspiracy immediately,” he said, adding that the SUCI will send a memorandum to the state governor and the central home minister.

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