Hundreds of journalists under the aegis of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) on Tuesday marched to Raj Bhavan here in protest against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan who had humiliated two journalists and ousted them from his press conference.
The protest march, which began from Kanakakunnu in the city and culminated ahead of the main gate of the Raj Bhavan, was inaugurated by Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader V D Satheesan.
Former State Finance Minister and Left leader T M Thomas Isaac, CITU leader Anathalavattom Anandan, Left leader and MP John Brittas were among others who participated in the protest march.
An agitated Kerala Governor had on Monday bluntly told journalists representing Kairali News and MediaOne television channels to “get out” of a press conference here and asserted that he would not talk to them.
The KUWJ said it “decries all attempts on part of Kerala Raj Bhavan to interfere in the free and independent functioning of journalists and the selective denial of journalistic access.”
In a letter addressed to the Governor, KUWJ asked Khan to “rethink” prejudices against some media houses and ensure that the right to practice freedom of profession is enjoyed by all journalists.
“The Kerala Union of Working Journalists is deeply concerned about the intolerance that Raj Bhavan harbours against some media houses. We strongly condemn the incidents at Ernakulam Guest house as well as the Delhi Kerala House where journalists were ousted by the Governor,” the letter said.
KUWJ said it was unfortunate that despite occupying a highly respectable Constitutional position, Khan displayed blatant intolerance towards the media, and repeatedly insulted the Kairali and Media One channels’ journalists who were merely discharging their official duties.
Addressing the journalists, Satheesan said the Governor’s move was anti-democratic and cannot be accepted in a democratic country.
While the ruling CPI(M) and the main opposition Congress termed his behaviour “fascist,” the KUWJ demanded that he rectify his “mistake” and express regret for his “undemocratic” action.
Khan, who is at loggerheads with the Marxist party-led government over several issues, told the journalists to “get out.”
He blamed Kairali for its party affiliation and the other channel for campaigning against him. Kairali News is a CPI(M) managed channel and MediaOne is backed by a Muslim organisation.
KUWJ also held protests at Thrissur and Kozhikode.
LDF launches massive campaign against Kerala Guv
The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala on Tuesday launched a massive grassroot level campaign by distributing pamphlets in households across the state against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan as the simmering tension between him and the front-led government over various issues seems to have reached a boiling point.
Distributed by the Left leaders and activists in various districts, the pamphlets, issued under the name of ‘Education Protection Society’, alleged that Khan was acting like a tool of Sangh Parivar and he does not even have the basic understanding of the Constitution. It also stressed the need for a mass public movement against Khan to protect the higher education sector of the southern state. According to LDF sources, the distribution of pamphlets is part of a series of protests being organised by the Left front against the Governor in the coming days. The Left front also has plans to convene a mass protest gathering with the participation of over 1 lakh people in front of Raj Bhavan here on November 15, they said. CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan said at the grassroot level, protest meetings and gathering would be convened in colleges and university campuses in the state
The protest convention, being organised in front of Raj Bhavan, would be unprecedented and not witnessed by the state capital in recent times, he noted.