Mumbai scribes, activists to protest attacks on media

June 9th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 9 (IANS) Journalists and human rights activists are set to hold a silent demonstration here Tuesday to protest the attack on Marathi daily Loksatta’s editor Kumar Ketkar’s house and the sedition charges filed against three Ahmedabad scribes. The protest will be held near the busy Churchgate railway station in south Mumbai under the aegis of the Committee for the Freedom of Expression (CFE.)

Last Thursday, a mob of around 70 people, calling themselves activists of the Shivsangram Sanghatana, attacked Ketkar’s home in Thane near here. The editor and his family were at home but escaped unhurt. Six people were later arrested.

The activists, who threw stones at the house and damaged furniture and fittings, were protesting against Ketkar’s recent editorials on Shivaji in the newspaper.

In Ahmedabad, City Police Commissioner O.P. Mathur had on June 1 filed sedition charges against Times of India’s resident editor Bharat Desai, correspondent Prashant Dayal and a photographer for questioning his integrity in an article. The article alleged that he had links with the underworld.

Noted social activist and labour lawyer Irfan Engineer, one of the conveners of CFE, told IANS: “Though in Ketkar’s case, police after much vacillation booked some hoodlums, in the Ahmedabad case, the police itself is the culprit. Look, at it logically, a police commissioner is a representative of the state.

“It is difficult to digest that a police officer, no matter what rank he holds, will file a grave and serious charge of sedition without the Gujarat government’s acquiescence.”

He added: “In both the Ketkar and Ahmedabad cases, the involvement of the state is quite tangible even if it is at first sight apparently tenuous. And the intention in both cases is crystal clear - to muzzle voices of dissent.”

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