October 22, 2023

TN: ‘Autocracy Will Be Defeated with Our Unity,' Journalists Vow

V B Ganesan

JOURNALISTS from various media organisations staged a demonstration in Chennai and vowed to build a powerful unity among the people to defeat the BJP government which is unleashing autocratic and undemocratic attacks on the media outlets exposing the truth.

The demonstration was organised by the Tamil Nadu state committee of the CPI(M) to condemn the oppression unleashed upon the web portal NewsClick. The demonstration staged near the Mint Bus stand in Vallalar Nagar on October 11, was addressed by CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan, DK president K Veeramani, senior DMK leader T K S Elangovan, CPI state deputy secretary M Veerapandian, MDMK treasurer M Senthiladhiban, Haiser Mohamed (IUML), Thirumurgan Gandhi (May 17 Movement), Ilam Che Guevara (VCK), senior journalists Nakkeeran Gopal, Kavitha Muralidharan and Shabbir Ahamed (Newsmint), PSD Purushothaman (TUJ), Hasif  (Forum of Mediapersons for Change), V Manimaran (MUJ), and TSR Subash (TUJ). Scores of senior journalists from Tamil Nadu Photo Journalists Association, Madras Reporters Guild, Tamil Nadu Reporters Association, Tamil Nadu Working Journalists Association, Television News Readers Association also participated in the demonstration and expressed their dissatisfaction at the muffling of the voice of people.  Senior journalist Nakkeeran Gopal warned that the attack on the NewsClick is also a warning to other media agencies and thanked CPI(M) for bringing in media persons as well as leaders of various political parties onto a single platform to raise voice against autocracy. The ruling party’s only concern is to see that its autocratic methods are not exposed before the people, and we shall build a strong unity among the people to defeat such nefarious tendencies of the ruling party, he said. 

Senior journalist Kavitha Muralidharan said that even though NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha has secured an anticipatory bail from the Delhi High Court in a related matter, Delhi Police arrested him and its HR head Amit Chakraborty under the UAPA as it gives the power to the hounding agencies to arrest anyone without mentioning the reason for such an arrest. The ED has also confiscated more than 300 items including laptops from the NewsClick premises before sealing it. As all of us are aware that the forensic evidence has proved that the police planted incriminating sources within the laptops of two activists after arresting them in the Bhima Koregaon case, and there is a lingering doubt that such a move may also be made in the case of NewsClick. She also thanked the CPI(M) for organising this demonstration to protect the freedom of expression by uniting all the political parties as well as various journalist associations. 

Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani said that as the BJP is facing defeat in every sphere since the formation of the INDIA front, it has started to shut the mouths of those organisations which are taking the real nature of the BJP to the wider masses. They should realise that when they start to attack the press pointedly to suppress the truth, their end will be very near. That is the historical truth. Narendra Modi’s government is doing the same thing now, he said. 

CPI deputy secretary M Veerapandian said that the attack on NewsClick is actually an attack on the freedom of expression as well as democracy. Journalists are the ones who bring out the truth before the world. Without their untiring efforts, the atrocities of Hitler on the jews would not have come to light. Now Israel is targeting media persons in the Gaza area of Palestine. Putting the lives of many journalists in jeopardy, the Modi government is following the same fascist methods which will be defeated by the unity of the people, he assured. 

DMK senior leader T K S Elangovan said that by attacking the fourth estate of democracy, the Modi government is making the constitutional setup of the country weak. When the CAG exposed the loot of Rs 7.5 lakh crore by various means, instead of explaining it to the people, the Modi government is transferring the officials who have headed the survey. Basically they have no belief in democracy which is being proved through their various acts now, he said. 

MMK leader Prof. Jawahirullah said that State violence has been unleashed on NewsClick and its employees and in the FIR it was mentioned that the news portal has published stories supporting the movement against CAA in Delhi as well as the powerful farmers struggle against black farm acts in Delhi. Is it right on the part of the government to invoke UAPA against whoever is publishing stories on people’s struggles, he asked. 

CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan while presiding over the demonstration said that while the ED is accusing that NewsClick has received funds from Chinese sources, it is well known that many famous Chinese companies during the last few years have donated substantially to PM Care Fund, whose trustees are the PM and many senior union ministers. Will the same agency (ED) question the PM and other senior ministers, he asked. The media being the lifeline of democracy, it is the duty of every politically conscious person of the country to defend the freedom of the press in order to safeguard democracy in the country, he said. 

CPI(M) Demonstration against Gaza Attacks

Demanding an end to the war-like attack on Palestine by Israel, a demonstration was held in Chennai on October 16. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member G Ramakrishnan, South Chennai unit secretary R Velmurugan and others spoke about the ramifications of this war and the need to end the occupation of Palestine by Israel.