Violence Directed Towards Journalists Undermines Democracy in India, says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the global organisation of journalists, representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide is concerned over the recent violence directed towards journalists and media workers in Kerala, India.

On 1 November 2004, 15 media workers were attacked whilst covering a reception of the Industries Minister, P.K. Kunhalikutty at the Karipur airport.

“It is unacceptable for journalists to be attacked in attempts to intimidate or censor reports,“ said IFJ President Christopher Warren today. "Journalists must be allowed to perform their professional duties free from violence or fear".

The journalists who were attacked and injured in the incident include; Asiannet correspondent V.M. Deepa and cameraman K.P. Ramesh, Indiavision correspondent Baiju Unnikrishnan, Kairali correspondent Shailesh, Jeevan TV correspondent Ayyappadas and cameraman Suresh, NTV correspondent Sajeev C. Warrier, Surya TV reporter Jayan Komath, New Indian Express photographer N.P. Jayan and Kerala Shabdham reporter Koyamu. All were admitted to the Baby Memorial Hospital in Kozhikode.

At approximately 2:30pm a mob attacked an India Vision vehicle whilst another mob targeted Asianet correspondent Deepa, who was repeatedly kicked while others yelled abuse at her. The mob threw stones at the other media workers.

In a separate incident on 31 October 2004, supporters of Kunhalikutty staged a protest in response to media coverage of Kunhalikutty, during the protest the Cochin and Kozhikode officers of the Malayalam news channel India Vision were stoned and the vehicles of the channel were ransacked.

M.P. Prashanth, Kozihikode bureau chief of The New Indian Express, was attacked by a group of men allegedly belong to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Youth League. Prashanth was covering the protest out the front of India Vision. Daily Deshabhimani photographer K S Praveen Kumar's camera was also badly damaged in the attack.

The IUML and its youth wing Muslim Youth League are upset over India Vision’s coverage of the “Kozhikode Ice Cream Parlour Scandal” dating from 1997 involving sexual abuse of young girls by politicians and VIP’s in Kerala including Industries MP P.K. Kunhalikutty. The IUML were protesting the “aggressive stand” taken by the media over the allegations of sexual abuse.

The IFJ condemns the actions taken allegedly by IUML members and commends the commitment made by the Kerala Chief Minister to ensure those responsible would feel the full weight of the law.

The IFJ welcomes steps by the Kerala Government to legislate against violence directed towards the media including the establishment of a judicial probe into these attacks.

“Press freedom and consequently the very foundations of democracy are threatened when a journalist or media worker is threatened or attacked,” said Warren.

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries