The Joint Secretary of the club said that the government expects journalists to write only good things about it, in the nature of advertisements for the ruling government.
The Chennai Press Club condemned the arrest of Nakkheeran Gopal from the Chennai airport on Tuesday morning. “Chennai Press Club strongly condemns the arrests, the threats and the actions of the state machinery that makes journalists run from pillar to post without any reason,” said Bharathi Tamil, the Joint Secretary of the club.
Nakkheeran Gopal was apprehended by the Chennai police around 8.20 am on Tuesday, allegedly for an article on the Nirmala Devi case, which questioned why TN Governor Banwarilal Purohit was not made a part of the inquiry. Acting on a complaint, reportedly lodged by the Deputy Secretary to Governor, the police arrested Gopal when he was on his way to Pune. The police have booked Gopal under section 124 of the IPC which deals with ‘assaulting President or Governor with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power’.
Speaking to media about the arrest, Bharathi said that the police have not acted in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court. “Basically the information regarding the name of the complainant, the nature of complaint, the sections of law under which the complaints have been registered and the police station in which the complaint has been registered must be informed to the family of the one who has been arrested and his lawyers. This has not been done in today’s arrest,” he said.
Alleging that the case is being prepared after taking Gopal into custody, Bharathi said that initially there were rumours that a sedition case will be slapped on Gopal. “If the government is going to book a journalist for sedition for writing an article, then let me say that it would be much easier for the state government to issue a government order declaring all journalists as traitors. This would make this government under the leadership of Edappadi Palaniswami to go down the annals of history,” he said.
He also came down heavily on the state administration and said that the police acted on the orders of the government which, in turn, is submitting itself to ‘pressure from Raj Bhavan’.
Calling this arrest an action by the government against all journalists, he said, “There is no freedom of speech, expression or thought in this state. This arrest shows that the government wants journalists to write only good things about it, which looks like advertisement.”
Echoing Bharathi’s thoughts on the arrest, S Arogyam, Nakkheeran Gopal’s lawyer said that they have not been informed about the arrest or the complaint.
“We have requested the police to grant us audience so that we would know under what section he has been arrested. We are still not sure of under what section he has been arrested. They told us that inquiry is going on and hence we will not be allowed to meet him,” Arogyam told media from outside the Chintadripet police station, where Gopal has been brought.
However, S Arogyam also said that the case under section 124 will not hold water in court because there was no assault or effort to stop the Governor’s lawful functioning.