Karavali Ale, coastal Karnataka’s popular Kannada daily, which is known for its secular and progressive outlook and for that reason target of attack several times by the communal outfits like the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and the like, faces now another threat to its two-decade existence as goondas belonging to these outfits, during the past couple of days, have let lose a reign of terror by way of obstructing the circulation of the newspaper in the city of Mangalore and physically attacking the newspaper staff. A senior staffer of the newspaper is lying in the hospital bed, fighting for life following a physical attack on him by men of Hindu Jagaran Vedike, deadly weapons like clubs and iron rods.
The immediate provocation for the series of attacks on the newspaper circulation network and its staff is the publication of a lead report in Karavali Ale yesterday, which threw light on the role of Hindu Jagaran Vedike, whose leaders were earlier arrested by the police for drug peddling but let off due to the political presssure by the ruling BJP leaders. The report has acquired importance as a girl student of a local college committed suicide under the influence of drug a couple of days ago. The newspaper is carrying a public interest campaign against drug abuse by young men and women and exposed the moral policing agents for peddling in the drug. The police are playing the role of willing accomplice as they too get a share in the booty.
In a situation like mounting attacks on the freedom of press, free and feaarless functioning of an independent and secular media like Karavali Alehas become difficult. In the past also, there were attacks on newspaper’s cirulation network, besides arrests twice of the newspaper’s promoters necessiating the Press Council of India intervention. Karnataka High Court had come down heavily on the government for arresting the Chief of Karavali Ale, namely, B V Seetaram who never compromised with the communal elements. The HC found his arrests illegal and slapped a fine on the Home department officials.
This morning members of a number of progressive and pro-people organisations like PUCL, Communal Harmony Form, DYFI, Mulslim Traders Association of the district etc held a public demonstration before the District Magistrate’s office in Mangalore demanding immediate arrest of those who were responsible for the murderous attack on the Karavali Ale staff yesterday. We also demanded invoking of clauses 307 and 326 of IPC relating to attempt to murder and grievous injury (non-bailable claues) whereas the police have washed off their hands by registering the case under lighter 143, 147, 148, 321, 324, 149 of the IPC to facilitate the accused get bail easily in the event of the arrest. This they have done under pressure by the ruling BJP MLA of the area.
Sir, we will be grateful for the kind intervention of the PCI by way of instruction to the Police Commissioner of Mangalore and the District Magistrate of Dakshina Kannada district by treating the incidents of attacks on circulation network of Karavali Ale and its staff seriously and bring the culprits to book expediously and ensure that nothing of these kind will repeat in future. We need protection by the law and order maintenance agencies.
Karavali Ale is being discriminated against by the BJP Government of Karnataka in the matter of release of advertsements too and we wish to prefer a separate complaint before the PCI in this regard. For the time being, the Sangh Parivar elements, acting as moral policing agents in coastal Karnataka need to be curbed. The district administration needs to come down heavily on goondas of these outfits who have posed a grave challenge to the maintenance of l & O besides the civil society itself. The Police Commissioner of Mangalore and the DC/DM may please be asked to ensure trouble-free working of Karavali Ale and its staff in the days to come.
Thanking you and with kind regards
B V Seetaram
Director, Karavali Ale, Mangalore.