Fake videos can’t be considered media work: Kerala CM on raids at news channel

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  After Kerala Police conducted raids at the Asianet News office, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said broadcasting fake videos cannot be considered media work adding that his government does not attack media outlets that advocate oppositional views.

Addressing the state Assembly, Kerala CM said, “In November 2022, a video was aired on the Asianet News TV channel, in which a minor girl in her uniform was introduced, which amounts to spreading the misapprehension that the government schools in Kerala are under the grip of drug abuse.”

In August 2022, the Chief Minister said the police investigations proved that a similar video prepared by using another minor girl was not based on facts. In the case of the latest incident, it was pointed out that the video was prepared by reproducing the audio of the earlier one, by using another girl and airing it.

Consequent to the complaint given by MLA PV Anwar to the State police chief, about this, a case has been registered in the Vellayil Police station, Kozhikode in which the inquiry is underway, he said.

Vijayan further said that protests occurred in various parts of the state against the making of such a video and the misuse of a minor girl for it. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) workers as well have organised a protest march to the TV channel’s office in Ernakulam district.

A case has been registered in Palarivattom Police station under sections 143, 147, 149, 447 and 506 of IPC and eight accused were arrested, apropos the complaint received from the media organisation that the protestors have gate-crashed into the office and disrupted the functioning of the office. Further investigation into the case is going on.

“The question about freedom of media does not at all arise here. The legal procedures against someone who commits a criminal offence are not initiated after checking the person’s occupation. The law does not allow this,” Kerala CM stated.

He said making and broadcasting fake videos cannot be considered media work. Trapping a minor girl in such an act without informing her that she is being misused and asking for protection to uphold media freedom does not at all form part of valiant media work. The majority think that such deterioration should not happen in the media field.

“Those who are asking for the privilege of protection enjoyed by the media to the criminal act of making fake videos by misusing a girl should say whether a murder will not be murder if it is committed by someone amid a news broadcasting job. Will it become a ‘holy act’ which has the privilege of protection enjoyed by the media?” he said.

In reference to the Income Tax department survey at BBC offices, Vijayan said the protest that happened here cannot be compared to the raid conducted at the BBC office.

“The raid at the BBC office was an act of revenge against the revelation by the channel about the role of a person who is in power in the Gujarat massacre. But the fake video made by a channel here (Asianet News) was not made as a revelation against any ruler or a government and it is not provoking any ruler in that sense. Hence, no resentment shall arise from any ruler against it. So the allegation of ‘revenge against media’ won’t even stand here,” said the Kerala CM.

“We do not attack media outlets that advocate oppositional views. But both the Congress and BJP regularly follow this practice of silencing media,” CM Vijayan added.

Attacking the Congress, Vijayan said seven foreign reporters were expelled from the country, 250 journalists were jailed and 54 people were denied accreditation. “This is the so-called Congress style. Even media persons were labelled as terrorists to hunt them down. This is the history of Congress,” he said.

The crime branch police team raided the Asianet News office, one of the leading news channels in Malayalam, based on a complaint by MLA PV Anvar.

The channel telecasted a report titled ‘Narcotics is a dirty business ‘ on November 10. The MLA alleged this report is fabricated and submitted a written complaint to DGP.

Based on this, the police registered a case naming four people from Asianet as accused. Two days back SFI activists had barged into the Asianet office in Kochi. Today’s raid by crime branch Assistant Commissioner V. Suresh and seven cops is a continuation of the incidents.

A case was registered under sections of POCSO and the Indian Penal Code. (ANI)

Following the raids, Asianet News Executive Editor Sindhu Sooryakumar on Sunday said in a statement that the channel “will do free and fair journalism without fear” adding that it will cooperate with the investigation process.

“Asianet news will cooperate with any investigation as per law. The investigation is against a story as part of the campaign against the drugs mafia which is gaining strength. There are allegations in the FIR that attempts to defame the image of government were made,” Sooryakumar said. (ANI)

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