Kerala CM pitches for constitutional protection for freedom of press

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday made a strong pitch for Constitutional protection to ensure freedom of press in the backdrop of the 'increasing' attacks against media houses and members of the fourth estate in the country.

It was the Centre's responsibility to bring in a constitutional amendment since it did not come under the state's purview, Pinarayi said in his reply to a submission by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala in the assembly.

During the Babri Masjid demolition, Gujarat riots and the recent Delhi violence, media freedom had been curbed, he said.

In Delhi, visual media personnel were not only prevented from going to the violence-hit areas, but even asked if they were Hindus or Muslims, he added.

It was during the emergency period that the press freedom suffered the most, Pinarayi said.

There was need to ensure constitutional protection of the freedom of press through an amendment and in the absence of such a measure, there can be an uniform law applicable to the entire country, he said.

The Kerala Assembly can pass a resolution requesting the Centre to implement such a legislation, he added.

"...Keeping in mind the present circumstances, we need to urge the Centre to enact a law for freedom of the press," Pinarayi said.

It should be ensured that such a legislation protects the freedom of the press, he added.

Pinarayi said there is no restriction on media freedom in Kerala and there has been a constructive relationship between the state government and journalists and media houses.

When communal forces unleashed violence against journalists, the state government had stood by the media and had taken strong legal action against the attackers.

The government of Kerala has always stood by the media in case of any kind of attacks against them, he said adding the present laws in the state are being "fruitfully" used to prevent attacks against the fourth estate in the state.

To ensure sanctity of the media, political parties also need to be careful and keep away from factors like paid news, the chief minister said.

Chennithala said there has been increase in instances of attacks on journalists and media houses.

The media came under attack in the state while reporting the women's entry issue at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala and the agitations against the CAA.

(With PTI inputs)

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