IN ANOTHER attack on journalists’ freedom in Karnataka, Naveen Soorinje, a reporter with Kasturi TV, a Kannada news channel in Mangalore, is undergoing imprisonment for merely having reported the truth. The 28-year-old scribe was arrested at 10.30 pm on 7 November, while returning from a reporting assignment.
Absurdly, Soorinje has been named in the chargesheet that identified 43 others from the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (a rightwing group) who had attacked a birthday party at a home stay in Padil on 28 July. The attackers, just like the Shri Ram Sene’s pub attack in Mangalore in January 2009, beat up and molested young girls, stating they were having a rave party.
The chargesheet clubs Soorinje (among the first reporters to have reached the spot) with those who beat up and molested the girls. Soorinje is the 44th accused and has been booked under Sections 120 (b)( conspiracy), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 447 (criminal trespassing), 325 (causing grievous hurt), 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504, 506, 509, 358 to be read with IPC 149, 448, 114, 341, 323, 324.
Ironically, the 43 other accused were identified by the footage shot by Soorinje’s cameraman. Soorinje, tipped off by a local source turned up at the spot with a cameraman — his call detail records (CDR) from that day, available with TEHELKA, show it was not one of the attackers.
The police had initially claimed that Soorinje did not inform the police about the attack. The dubiousness of the charge notwithstanding — Soorinje had made repeated calls not only to Mangalore Police Commissioner (who was out of town then), but also to Ravish Nayak, inspector of the nearby police station, but never got a call back from the local cop — it barely came as a surprise that the same inspector arrested Soorinje. These calls do not show up in the CDR as they went unanswered.