Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday evening denied reports that his office had barred four news outlets from covering his press conference.
In the morning, PTI had reported that the governor’s office had barred representatives of television channels Kairali, Reporter, Media One and Jaihind from taking part in the interaction held on Monday.
However, Khan’s office claimed that the reports were not factually accurate.
“Mediapersons who requested for interview on 24 Oct were invited at a common time, due to paucity of time,” the governor’s office wrote in a tweet. “This interaction was misunderstood by some as Press conference.”
On Monday, a group of journalists had sought Khan’s reaction to a statement by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan rebuking him for asking nine state-run universities’ vice chancellors to resign, PTI reported.
Vijayan said that the governor could not dismiss vice-chancellors whimsically and added that his order was subject to judicial review, according to The Hindu. The Kerala High Court later allowed the vice-chancellors to continue at their positions till a final order on the matter was passed by the governor.
Subsequently, when Khan was approached by a group of journalists, he told them that he would speak to mediapersons but not to party cadres.
“I can only tell you, please whosoever wants to talk to me, they can send a request to Raj Bhavan, I will make it sure that I talk to you,” he said. “But I don’t know who among you is a genuine journalist and who are the cadre masquerading as media. And I do not wish to speak to the cadre.”
The governor later called a press conference, but representatives of Kairali, Reporter, Media One and Jaihind were not allowed to attend it, according to PTI.
State Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan said that it was not appropriate for Khan to bar the four media outlets. “It’s not right on behalf of the Governor, which is a constitutional post, to deny permission to a section of media,” he said. “Avoiding the media is a fascist approach. This is not good for a democracy.”
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists said that Khan’s action encroached on the freedom of the media. “Banning a certain section of the media from covering the Governor’s press meet is anti-democratic, violates press freedom and is highly condemnable,” the union said, according to The News Minute.