Offices of the news channel Asianet in Kozhikode, Kerala, were searched by police on Sunday, the media outlet said, two days after members of the student wing of the state’s ruling party attacked the channel over a news report about the sexual assault of schoolgirls in the state.
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar denounced Pinarayi Vijayan’s government and shared a video of the police crackdown on Twitter.
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) March 5, 2023
A group of activists from the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) allegedly broke into the office of Malayalam news outlet Asianet News in Kozhikode on Friday and threatened staff during the news broadcast, police said.
A case was registered against about 30 activists from the SFI, the student wing of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M), based on a complaint filed by the TV channel.
According to the complaint, the SFI activists entered the office around 8 p.m. and uttered slogans against the news channel after shoving security personnel aside and intimidating the employees, police said.
CPI(M) sources claimed on Saturday that a complaint had been filed against the news channel for allegedly creating “fake news” using an underage girl over the alleged sexual assault of more than 10 girl students at a school in northern Kerala.
Sources in the SFI Ernakulam District Committee tried to justify the action by claiming that the student group organized the march to the Kochi office of the media house in protest against fake news run by it.
The news channel had released the story last year as part of its program on the state’s drug threat.
The Press Club of India criticized the SFI move and urged the Kerala government to launch an investigation into the incident.
“We express our concern and protest against SFI activists allegedly breaking into @AsianetNewsML’s office in Ernakulam and intimidating staff. These forceful tactics have no place in a democracy. The Kerala government should swiftly investigate this incident,” the statement said. Press Club of India said in a tweet on Friday.