It had been 55 days since Naveen Soorinje, the reporter of Kasturi News Channel, was arrested by the Mangalore police and sent jail. After a long haul battle carried out by the journalistic community in Mangalore and Bangalore, there appears to be glimmer of hope of his release.
The hope came in the form of assurance of home minister R. Ashoka when he visited Freedom Park in Bangalore on Monday. But when will he be released? Can the home minister really secure his release? What will happen to the other Journalist -Sharan of Sahaya TV who was arrested late last week, will he also be released too? were some of the questions that were haunting the journalists sitting on protest there.
They feel that it was all a big drama, since it was the BJP government that had arrested the journalist and now its home minister wanted to play “saviour” which is nothing but a ploy to be on the good books of the media and activists.
“Naveen’s role in the homestay attack did not deserve to be recorded in the police chargesheet. How can you hold somebody guilty who goes to a place with a camera? Tomorrow, the police and the government will find it an offence taking as much as pen and a notebook for reporting,” social activist Vidya Dinakar said.
The Dakshina Kannada District Journalists Union and the Press Club of Mangalore have submitted memoranda to the deputy commissioner.
But the move to secure the release of Sharan, another journalist who was subsequently arrested, has not picked up the same tempo as it was in the case of Naveen Soorinje.
“It has to pick up tempo. The professional bodies of the journalistic community should take it further from this point, The Forum Against Illegal Arrests of Journalists was a body put together for Naveen Soorinje’s release. But we got a few likeminded professionals joining us in this fight which helped in bringing the home minister to give an assurance about the release of Soorinje. If Sharan of Sahaya TV was also charged under the same sections for the crime which he did not commit, then the Forum will not hesitate to take up a second wave of protests,” convener of the forum, Ravikrishna Reddy, said.