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Victory for press freedom, Karnataka police withdraws notice

Posted by Admin on May 17, 2010

BENGALURU: Karnataka has backed down on a police move to seek source of information on Naxalites from a journalist by threatening to clamp cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

Buckling under protests by the Editors Guild of India, the state government asked the police in Shimoga to withdraw a notice served on a reporter to furnish information on a Naxalite leader whom he had interviewed or face criminal action.

The interview was done by Rahul Belagali, a reporter of Prajavani daily, in the forests of Shimoga, the home district of Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa.

He refused to part with information sought by police on the location where he had interviewed the Naxal leader and the sources who gave him access to the Naxal hideouts.

The Editors Guild and the Karnataka Journalists Association cried foul, seeking withdrawal of the notice served on both Rahul and the editor of Prajavani.

"The case is being closed" said Shimoga Superintendent of Police Murugan.

Murugan said the government had no intention to curb press freedom and promised cordial relationship with the fourth estate.

Journalist associations had threatened to hold protests in Shimoga as well as in Bengaluru against the police move to curb press freedom.

Yeddyurappa and Home Minister V.S.Acharya held discussions with the top brass of the police and it was decided to withdraw the case.

Editors Guild President Rajdeep Sardesai had slammed the police for trying to intimidate the press.

He said professional ethics demands that media persons should protect their sources.

"Without such privilege, sources would not be willing to speak freely to the media, whose duty it is to report the facts fairly and objectively from all points of view to present a true picture to the public,"

"The confidentiality of a source is a well established journalistic principle. Without such privilege, sources would not be willing to speak freely to media, whose duty is to report the facts fairly and objectively from all points of view to present a true picture to the public," Rajdeep Sardesai said.

"The Shimoga police had demanded information on the Naxalite leader who the reporter had interviewed for an article on Naxalism (Maoist) which appeared in his publication. When the reporter refused to comply, the police also sent a notice to his associate editor, RPT Dandavati , threatening to use the same act against him," he said.

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