International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the arrest of A.S. Mani,
editor of the weekly magazine Naveena Netrikan, in Madurai city in the southern Indian state of
to reports from IFJ partners, Mani was arrested on October 25 following a
complaint about an article alleging a close nexus between a Madurai
businessman and the local Member of Parliament, M.K. Azhagiri, who also holds a
cabinet position in India’s
article published in Mani’s weekly alleged that the businessman had a decisive
influence in the award of public works contracts in Madurai and nearby districts, and was
involved in collecting kickbacks from successful bidders, to be handed over to
the local MP.
is disturbed to note the seeming willingness of the local police to pursue a
complaint by a private citizen and businessman under criminal law,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
upon the aggrieved parties to use civil law processes when seeking redress
against any publication that they may find offensive.”
to reports, Mani was arrested under sections of Indian criminal law relating to
causing enmity between communities, defamation and intent to cause panic. Due
to concerns about his safety in Madurai,
he has been transported by police to a prison in the state capital of Chennai.
has previously noted the serious threats facing media workers in Madurai, particularly
after the fire-bombing of the offices of the daily Dinakaran in May
employees of the newspaper were killed in the attack, and there has been no
progress in identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice.
The 2007 attack
was reportedly carried out by partisans of Azhagiri in retaliation for an
opinion poll published in the newspaper which indicated Azhagiri had dim
chances of assuming the leadership of the political party to which he belonged.
has consistently denied any involvement. Investigations have stalled despite
being entrusted to a police agency controlled by the Union Government.
has been informed by partner organisations in India
that Madurai is
increasingly becoming a dangerous place for media personnel engaged in critical
reporting and commentary on locally dominant political groups,” Park said.
upon authorities in the state of Tamil Nadu to call a halt to this campaign of
intimidation against the media in the city of Madurai.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
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