The Mangaluru Police on Friday said they have released the journalists from Malayalam news outlets who were detained earlier in the day, ANI reported. “Six or seven Kerala journalists were detained today in the morning,” they said.
This came after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office instructed senior state administration officials to take steps for the immediate release of mediapersons, The News Minute reported.
The police detained more than 15 journalists from prominent Malayalam news outlets such as Asianet, Manorama, News18 and Mathrubhumi on Friday while they were waiting outside Mangaluru’s Wenlock Hospital for the autopsy report of two people killed the day before during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
In a Facebook post, Vijayan condemned restrictions on the media in the Karnataka city, and the police. “All kinds of intervention will be conducted to ensure the security of Malayali media workers who went to report news in Mangaluru,” he added. “State police chief [Lokanath Behera] is connected to the Karnataka police to ensure that the reporters are released from custody.”
Vijayan also condemned those who accused the journalists of being violent. “It is a fascist attitude to curb media freedom,” he said. “Public dissent should only rise higher against this attitude.”
The Mangaluru Police, however, claimed that the journalists were not carrying proper accreditation. “Few people not having any accreditation cards issued by any authority, not from any formal media and in possession of many things unconnected to reporting are being questioned,” NDTV quoted Mangaluru Commissioner of Police PS Harsha as saying.
Kerala police chief Lokanath Behera assured journalists earlier in Kochi that “all those persons who have not indulged in any violence and were at the spot to do their job will be checked and released by the [Karnataka] police”.
He also asked police officials and people in Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikode to remain alert in the light of Thursday’s violence in Mangaluru, Mathrubhumi reported. On Thursday, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had claimed that the protests were the handiwork of people from Kerala who had entered the state a week ago.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to persecuted people six religious communities – except Muslims – from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It has been decried as anti-Muslim, and protestors from Northeastern states have alleged that the Act will erode their ethnic identities.
The latest round of protests began at Jamia Millia Islamia University on Sunday, and spread nationwide after police violence against students. On Thursday, thousands of people were detained across the country. One person was also killed in Lucknow.