Mangalore : Govt drops all charges against journalist Soorinje #goodnews


 

journalist-Soorinje

 

 

Mangalore: June 14; The State Government has dropped all charges against journalist Naveen Soorinje in connection with the Morning Mist home stay attack Recently The Visual Media Journalists Association of Dakshina Kannada district had submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urging him to drop all charges against journalist Naveen Soorinje and TV cameraman Sharan in connection with the Morning Mist home stay attack.

 

 
As per the Cabinet meet on Thursday June 13 it was decided to withdraw cases registered against journalist Naveen Soorinje in the Morning Mist Home Stay attack .
Advocate M P Amruthesh had filed public interest litigation in the state high court on February 6, challenging the state cabinet’s January 31 decision to withdraw case standing against Soorinje.
But the state High Court had, based on an affidavit that Soorinje was not involved with illegal activities at the venue, granted bail to him thereafter on March 23.

 

‘Soorinje can’t be allowed to go unless innocents are freed’


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

Chief Minister yet to sign order on Soorinje’s release

There was no progress made in reporter Naveen Soorinje’s case at Monday’s Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.

A resolution to drop the criminal charges against Soorinje of Kasturi Newz24 was passed by the Cabinet during its last meeting on January 31. But the resolution has not yet been signed by Mr. Shettar as a result of which Soorinje continues to be in jail.

While Mr. Shettar once again told journalists that he would sign the Cabinet resolution and facilitate Soorinje’s release, he did not commit to a deadline.

Meanwhile, a senior Minister told reporters after Monday’s Cabinet meeting that there is “pressure” from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the case.

“There is a demand from them [RSS] that the State should also withdraw cases against the other accused in the case,” the Minister said on the condition of anonymity.

Speaking from Mangalore, MLA J. Krishna Palemar said, “There are other innocents in the case. We cannot allow Soorinje’s release unless they too are released.”

Charges

Soorinje has been in jail since November 7, 2012 on the charge of colluding with the Hindu Jagaran Vedike group that attacked boys and girls celebrating a birthday at a homestay in Mangalore on July 28, 2012.

Journalists, who are fighting for Soorinje’s release, have said that Soorinje was a victim of political machinations. It is the official position of the Karnataka Union of Working Journalists as well as the Editors’ Guild of India that Soorinje should have been made a witness in the case as it was footage shot by his cameraman that helped the police identify and arrest the attackers.

 

#India – Crossing the Lakshman rekha- moral policing #Vaw


 

 

VIKHAR AHMED SAYEED – Recently in Mangalore, Outlook

 

 

The attack on a homestay in Mangalore clearly shows that Hindutva ideologues define the moral and cultural boundaries in coastal Karnataka.

 

 

 

BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT 

Naveen Soorinje, the journalist who was arrested in connection with the attack on a homestay, being taken to a court in Mangalore in November 2012. 

The visiting hours at the Mangalore Sub-Jail are between 11-30 a.m, and 1 p.m. Visitors of undertrials gather around the imposing jail gate ahead of time as a guard usually checks the contents of their stainless steel lunch boxes before they are allowed inside. Soon, the motley group of relatives, friends and the odd journalist is led to either of the two wards where undertrials are lodged. A double-grilled window separates the visitor from the undertrial. Within minutes of reaching the enclosure, there is a cacophony of voices as the visitors jostle to find a convenient spot.

As this reporter heads for the window, a dishevelled Naveen Soorinje saunters in on the other side of it. The 28-year-old journalist has lost some weight since his arrest but he is upbeat. As is evident from his name, Soorinje is not a Muslim, but is lodged in the Muslim ward. “If I were in the Hindu ward, I would have been killed. There are many people there whom I’ve exposed through my work,” he says with a smile.

Soorinje, a journalist with Kasturi News, a 24-hour Kannada news channel, was arrested on November 7, 2012 when he was named in a charge sheet filed by the Mangalore police following the incidents that took place at Morning Mist Homestay. On July 28, 2012, a mob of 25 to 30 activists of the Hindu Jagran Vedike (HJV) led by 34-year-old Subhash Padil barged into the homestay and beat up a group of young men and women gathered there for a birthday party.

Videos of the attack, which are available online, show that the girls are manhandled, their dresses are ripped and they are slapped hard by HJV activists. A young man is stripped of his shirt and dragged by his hair across the room and pounded by a group of attackers.

The videos, which were played on loop on local and national news channels for a couple of days, drew nationwide condemnation. The ugly scene the Hindu right-wing elements created was recorded by some local journalists.

There were two other journalists at the venue apart from Soorinje, Rajesh Srinivas of TV 9, a well-known Kannada news channel, and Sharan Raj of Sahaya TV, a local news channel reportedly close to the Hindu right-wing. According to Soorinje’s testimony, he received a tip-off about the raid and tried to contact the police as soon as he realised that an attack was under way. However, his presence had irked the police who, Soorinje said, wanted to teach him a lesson.

Subsequently, charges were filed against the attackers as well as Soorinje and Sharan Raj (it remains a mystery why charges were not filed against Srinivas). Raj is in the Hindu ward of the jail. Strangely, the attackers and the journalists were charged under the same sections of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) pertaining to rioting, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly and outraging the modesty of a woman.

Subhash Padil is known to play the moral vigilante of the Hindutva forces in Mangalore city. He was one of the members of the group that attacked women in Amnesia Pub on January 24, 2009. He has had stints in the Bajrang Dal and the Sri Rama Sene.

“I have no remorse for what I did. Yes, I led the group that attacked the girls at the homestay but do you know what they were up to? They were drinking beer and you know what that leads to…,” Padil shouted from across the grilled window of the jail. He added: “How does a girl celebrate a birthday party? Do you go to a remote location with boys and drink beer? We don’t have any problem if you sit with your family and have a quiet dinner but going to parties and drinking and smoking…. Is that any way to celebrate a birthday? It is because of our actions that the girls at the homestay were saved from getting dishonoured. We have ensured that such immoral activities have come down in Mangalore.”

The attacks on Amnesia Pub and the home stay are just two of the many incidents that have taken place in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka in the past few years.

It is clear from the fiery rhetoric of people like Padil that the moral and cultural boundaries in the area are defined by Hindutva ideologues and anyone who breaches that boundary is a target of their foot soldiers. Women especially should be very careful about stepping out of the confines of the cultural Hindu rashtra, and if a woman is “spoilt”, then the family is dishonoured. Getting “corrupted” by “modernity” and by befriending Muslim men (love jehad) is the easiest way in which Hindu women in Dakshina Kannada can overstep the Lakshman rekha drawn by the Sangh Parivar.


The police escort youth who were attacked by pro-Hindutva activists at a party at Padil on the outskirts of Mangalore in July 2012. 

Sample some of the incidents that have occurred in the recent past as reported in the local media:

On January 30, a fracas broke out between a mixed-sex group of young people who were smoking at Rock Cafe in Mangalore and members of the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini. The police, who arrived with the Hindutva brigade, took the youngsters to the police station and summoned their parents. On December 19, 2012, a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl were assaulted by activists at the Shibaroor temple festival near Mangalore. On December 15, a four-member gang assaulted a Muslim boy who was speaking to a Hindu girl in Bajpe in Mangalore. On November 7, a couple of youngsters in Kundapur in Udupi district was targeted. It later turned out that they were siblings. On November 2, activists of a Hindutva group brought a young woman to the Puttur police station alleging that she was engaged in immoral activities with a boy from a different community.

In a report brought out by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka (PUCL-K) and the Forum Against Atrocities on Women, Mangalore (FAAWM) after the homestay attack, 300 major and minor moral policing events between 1998 and July 2012 in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have been recorded.

Suresh Bhat Bakrabail of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum, who has catalogued every reported event of moral policing, said: “The situation for young people in Mangalore is extremely scary as the youth are not able to mix freely.”

Postgraduate students at the Mass Communication and Media Studies Centre of St. Aloysius College expressed their views in a discussion with this journalist. “We are careful not to go out of the campus with friends of the opposite sex. We usually meet in groups and ensure that we do not stay out late,” said a first-year male student who did not want to be named. A girl student added: “We are apprehensive and make sure that we do not attract attention when we go out.” All the students had minor incidents to report about how people they knew were warned about public behaviour by self-appointed moral guardians.

Distinct Culture

Separated from the hinterland by the Western Ghats, the coastal belt of Karnataka has developed its own distinct culture. Dakshina Kannada district was part of the Madras Presidency during the colonial years.

The two dominant castes of Karnataka, the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas, have a minuscule presence in the region. The Muslims living in the coastal district, known as Bearys, are distinct from their counterparts elsewhere in the State. There is a historic Catholic Christian presence along the coast. The numerically strong Hindu castes of the region include the Billavas, the Moggaveeras and the Bunts, while Brahmins also have a significant presence.

The dominant languages of the region are Tulu and Konkani although Kannada is spoken and understood widely. Interestingly, Dakshina Kannada has the highest literacy rate in Karnataka, marginally ahead of Bangalore.

 

When migration to countries around the Persian Gulf began in the late 1960s, the Bearys took advantage of the economic opportunities that unfolded, and the funds they repatriated caused a fundamental change in the caste-based economy of the region. Non-Muslim migrants to other parts of India also caused the coastal belt to be flush with funds. Mangalore’s communal polarisation started with the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Recognising the presence of important religious institutions and the changes in the economy, the Sangh Parivar constituents began to systematically work in the region from the 1980s, making it a Hindutva laboratory. Their efforts paid off when coastal Karnataka emerged as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral bastion in the 1990s.

Muslims, who constitute 22 per cent of the population in Dakshina Kannada, have also been influenced by the identity politics of Muslim groups from northern Kerala in the past decade, and there are reported incidents of Muslims doing counter moral policing. The area has emerged as a communal tinderbox with slow self-segregation among the communities as well. Distinct Hindu, Muslim and Christian residential areas are emerging.

The district was once known as the most progressive part of Karnataka, but Hindutva forces have overrun it now. Jagadish Shenava, an advocate and the district working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), articulates this aggression when he says: “We are very strong here and the situation has gone beyond normal. No Muslim boys and Hindu girls in the area can meet without causing a communal riot. Our next target is Manipal as it is the hub of illegal activities like pubbing.”

It is in this background that the role of the media needs to be examined. There are only a handful of Kannada newspapers such as Karavali Ale (Coastal Wave) and Vaartha Bharathi that are waging a relentless battle against the excesses of the Sangh Parivar. Employees of Karavali Ale were targeted recently after the newspaper published an article that linked a senior leader of the HJV with drug supply in the region.

The journalist community in the region, for the most part, has either been silent on or collaborated with the gradual communalisation of the region. Soorinje’s work has had an impact in the media. About his reportage of the homestay incident, he says: “The July 28 incident in Mangalore is not a stray incident. Such events occur here every week. If I had not shot the visuals, the police would not have accepted the fact that the assault had happened. This has been the case in many such incidents in the past.”

The journalist community in Bangalore rallied around Soorinje. Some journalists even went on a three-day hunger strike in January demanding his release. This forced the State Cabinet to withdraw all charges against Soorinje on January 31 but he continues to remain in jail. On February 6, a public interest petition was filed against the withdrawal of the cases against Soorinje, prolonging his incarceration.

State cabinet withdraws criminal cases against scribe Soorinje #goodnews


SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu

Mariam Alexander Baby, Polit Bureau Member of CPI(M), with Naveen Soorinje, at Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore. Photo: H.S.Manjunath
The HinduMariam Alexander Baby, Polit Bureau Member of CPI(M), with Naveen Soorinje, at Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore. Photo: H.S.Manjunath

 

The State Cabinet which met here on Thursday has approved the withdrawal of criminal cases registered against a television journalist-Naveen Soorinje , the minister for law and parliamentary affairs, Suresh Kumar told presspersons.

Mr. Soorinje covering Mangalore district for the channel, was instrumental in exposing the July 28 attack by activists of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore.

He was arrested on November 7 by the Mangalore police on charges ranging from “rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.

 

Indian journalists fight to free jailed reporter who exposed attack on women


 

 

Roy Greenslade

Monday 14 January 2013

guardian.co.uk

 

It might be thought that a journalist responsible for exposing a vicious assault on women would be lionised. In fact, he has been in jail for more than two months.

In July last year, television reporter Naveen Soorinje revealed that a group of Hindu extremists were responsible for an attack on young women at a house party in Mangalore.

His report on Kasturi TV, which included film of the assaults as the women ran into the streets, led to the eventual arrest of 43 people. On 7 November, Soorinje became the 44th person to be detained, provoking outrage among the journalistic community.

Accused of abetting the crime, he faces a range of charges from “rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty.

Soorinje, who strenuously denies all charges, claimed his arrest was politically motivated because he had exposed the local administration’s failure to deal properly with cases of so-called “moral policing” and attacks on minority communities by right-wing Hindu groups.

The state of Karnataka is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and there is a suspicion that there was tacit political support for police to detain the messenger for his unwanted message about extremist behaviour by Hindus.

“Police have no business to arrest him,” said M Saldhana, a retired high court judge and human rights activist in the state capital, Bangalore. “He was just discharging his professional duties. The arrest sends bad signals on how the local police are mixed up with right-wing organisations.”

Television footage – taken by Soorinje and a cameraman with Sahaya TV, Sharan, who was arrested late last week – showed men chasing girls and boys and beating them up. Some of the attackers were seen groping a traumatised girl.

The accused defended the attack by arguing that it was a rave party (and, by implication illegal). But police described it as a birthday party attended by students. No drugs were found.

Though some members of the Karnataka state government initially gave broad assurances that the charges against 28-year-old Soorinje would be dropped, his continued imprisonment led to a three-day hunger strike last weekend by fellow journalists.

Dozens of senior editors, reporters and photographers gathered at Freedom Park in the state capital, Bangalore, to show their support.

One of the demonstrators, HR Ranganath, editor of Public TVtold Coastal Digest: “Through this arrest, the state government is sending a message to the journalist fraternity that they will be punished for anti-establishment reportage.”

And Arvind Narrain, a member of a lawyers’ collective based in Karnataka, told the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists: “There is consensus across activists and journalists that Naveen is innocent. He’s one in a million for fearlessly exposing the Hindu right.”

But a Mangalore court denied Soorinje’s request in late November for bail. And a further request was denied on 26 December by the Karnataka high court.

Sources: CPJ/Tehelka.com/BBC/Coastal Digest/DNA India

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Statement of Support for Release Naveen Soorinje, – NWMI, Mumbai


 

The Mumbai Chapter, of   The  Network of Women in Media, India, released a statement   of support for Release of Naveen Soorinje

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; JAN 6,2013
We are shocked at the continued incarceration of Managalore-based
television journalist Naveen Soorinje by police and demand both his
immediate release and the dropping of charges  against him forthwith.

Naveen Soorinje was arrested on November 9, 2012. His bail application was
rejected on December 26, 2012.

The Mangalore district reporter for Kasturi Newz24, Naveen Soorinje was
instrumental in exposing the July 28 attack by activists of the Hindu
Jagarana Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating
a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore. He was arrested by the
Mangalore police on charges under various sections of the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention)Act, the Indian Penal Code from “rioting with deadly
weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force
on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police have
also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women
(Prohibition) Act 1986.

Soorinje’s report, titled ‘The Talibanisation of Mangalore’, was actually
vital evidence of the brutality of the attack and the molestation and
assault on the youth. Instead, he was charged with the same offences as
that of the attackers. The police arrested 31 people in connection with the
attack and Soorinje was lodged in the same sub-jail as them until a protest
from the Mangalore Union of Working Journalists forced police to lodge him
separately.

In his order rejecting Naveen’s bail application, the Karnataka High Court
judge, Keshava Narayana, relied on police evidence that Naveen was
absconding, when in fact, he was very much present in the area and had
covered important and routine assignments between July and November,
including the visit of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the area.

In the short span of seven years, Soorinje had made a mark as a journalist
in the region for his coverage of powerful groups including Hindutva
organizations, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India, the pontiff
of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, who is the guru of former Madhya Pradesh
CM Uma Bharti, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the
Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade, among others. Besides, he wrote exposes on
corrupt policemen and even exposes on journalists taking gifts in return
for favors.

Clearly, the arrest and charges against him smack of vendetta and designed
to work as a ‘chilling effect’ on independent reportage in this region. His
continued incarceration cannot and must not act as a deterrent to fair and
accurate journalism and we demand that he be released forthwith and the
charges against him dropped.

 

 

Civil Society begins fast demanding release of TV journalist


 

By Newzfirst Correspondent1/5/13

 

Bangalore – Journalists, rights activists and members of civil society organizations Saturday began a three-day fast under the aegis of ‘The Forum Against Illegal Arrest of Journalists’ demanding immediate release of Naveen Soorinje, the TV journalist who reported the infamous home-stay attack at Mangalore in July this year.

The arrest of Naveen Soorinje is a blatant violation of press freedom. Instead of making him a witness, the Police have labled him as a perpetrator. The Government should drop all the charges against Soorinje and release him immediately, HR Ranganath, senior journalist and chief of Public TV told media-persons.

“The charges, which are generally framed against criminals, have been framed against a journalist, who conscientiously reported an outrage against partying youths.” he said.

Soorinje has been of booked under different sections of Indian Penal Code like 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, 447 (criminal trespass) and 395 (dacoity) and presently languishes in Mangalore prison.

Another senior journalist Laxman Hoogar said that the arrest of Soorinje is an effort by the police to curtail the freedom of press and to warn the journalists who go against the wish and whims of the Police.

Is covering violence or crime, a crime? he asked.

According to B. T. Venkatesh, a noted Advocate and rights’ defender, “If Soorinje had not covered the incident and reported it, the nation could never come to know about this heinous culture prevailing in our society”.

The listing of Soorinje as an accused and not as a witness is absolutely unjust to both the witness and the victims. And it will help criminals to getaway, he added.

The Karnataka Police had arrested Soorinje, a TV journalist working with Kasturi Newz24, on 7 November and accused him of committing various crimes along with the attackers who belonged to right-wing extremist groups.

The bail application moved by Soorinje has been rejected by both the lower court and the High Court.

Outraged over his arrest, journalists’ organizations, senior journalists as well as civil society groups have been protesting across the state and demanding that the government should drop its proceedings against him.

Despite several appeals by delegations of journalists to the Governor and the Chief Minister, no action has been taken by the Government in this regard. The issue was also taken up with the Home Minister on the floor of the State legislative assembly during the recently concluded session at Belgaum.

 

Journalists announce hunger strike seeking Naveen Soorinje’s release


Staff Reporter, The Hindu, Jan 5 2013

BANGALORE: Backed by the International Federation of Working Journalists, the
Karnataka Union of Working Journalists and the Bangalore Press Club, journalists
from across the State have decided to launch a three-day hunger strike at the
freedom park starting Saturday demanding the immediate release of journalist
Naveen Soorinje.

The Mangalore district reporter for Kasturi Newz24, Mr. Soorinje was
instrumental in exposing the July 28 attack by activists of the Hindu Jagarana
Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating a birthday
party at a homestay in Mangalore. He was arrested on November 7 by the Mangalore
police on charges ranging from “rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal
conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the
intention of outraging her modesty. The police also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of
The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.

Announcing the plan to go on hunger strike, President of the KUWJ Gangadhar
Mudaliar said that numerous memorandums had been submitted to the Chief
Minister, Home Minister as well as the Governor seeking the dropping of charges
against Mr. Soorinje.

Stating that all these “civil” efforts had come to nought, he said, “There is
growing insecurity among the journalists of the State, particularly those
working in rural and district centres. They are under constant pressure from the
police and the administration.”

He said, “The arrest [of Mr. Soorinje] should not be treated as an isolated
incident. It is the government’s way of scaring the entire journalist fraternity
into silence.” Rubbishing the charges against Mr. Soorinje, he said, “Is the
camera a lethal weapon? Is reporting a crime now an offence in this State?”

Vice President of the Press Club Y.G. Ashok Kumar, said, “If we go to a spot to
report a crime, we journalists inform our editors not the police. Our job is to
report the truth and we are not police informers.” He also alleged that the case
against Mr. Soorinje is politically motivated. “The stand taken by his [Mr.
Soorinje’s] channel against the government is well known. It is an attempt to
target an anti-establishment news outlet,” he said.

Ravikrishna Reddy, the editor of the Kannada news portal vartamana.com, said,
“The courts, which have denied Mr. Soorinje bail, have been forced to act on the
basis of false and fabricated evidence presented before them. It is now up to
those who have fabricated this evidence to come clean and withdraw the cases
filed against Mr. Soorinje.”

Bageshree S., Senior Assistant Editor at The Hindu, said, “As part of our job,
we often go to cover riots, crimes and conflicts. If the police start charging
us under the same sections as the rioters or criminals, on the grounds that we
did not inform them, how can we perform our duty?”

 

Justice Katju’s statement in Mangalore on Naveen Soorinje’s case


December 3, 2012, http://www.vartamaana.com/
Justice Markandey Katju

I have been approached by many journalists in Mangalore about my views regarding criminal proceedings against Naveen Soorinje.

It will not be proper for me to make any comment about the particular case of Naveen Soorinje because I am informed that charge-sheet has been filed in a court and that the judicial proceedings are pending before judicial magistrate, and I am told that a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C is pending before the High Court praying for quashing of the criminal proceedings. As such, since the matter is sub-judice both before the trial court and the High Court it will not be proper for me to comment about the particular case of Mr. Naveen Soorinje.

However, I am informed that in Mangalore journalists are often harassed by the police and also by the hooligans. I therefore make it clear that the Press Council will not tolerate violation of press freedom either by assaults on journalists or giving threats or in any other manner. Freedom of the press is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution and it is the duty of the State to uphold this right.

I therefore warn the authorities, which includes both political, administrative and police authorities that if they violate this press freedom by assaults or threats to journalists or in any other manner the Press Council will take strong action in this connection. In particular, the State Government of Karnataka through its Chief Minister is given a strong warning to uphold press freedom and to suppress the activities of hooligans or police personnel who violate fundamental rights of citizens, including the journalists.

The State Government is warned that if it does not protect journalists and uphold press freedom it will be deemed that the State Government is unable to run the Government in accordance with the Constitution, and then the legal consequences in Article 355 and 356 of the Constitution may follow. Article 356 (is invoked) when the President of India finds on the report of the Governor or otherwise that the State Government is unable to function in accordance with the Constitution. I am also part of “otherwise” and anybody can make a recommendation. Of course it is up to the President to accept it or not. Under Article 355 Central Government can issue a warning to the State Government asking it to run the Government in accordance with the Constitution failing which recourse may be had to Article 356.