A group of journalists on Friday, April 24, staged a silent protest at the Coimbatore district collectorate against the arrest of Andrew Sam Raja Pandian, the publisher and managing director of a city-based news portal.

journalists wearing masks protesting outside Coimbatore district collectorate
journalists wearing masks protesting outside Coimbatore district collectorate Twitter

Protest over the arrest of a journo

Pandian was arrested on Thursday on charges of allegedly publishing content misleading the public. His news portal carried news about a protest by PG doctors accusing the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) authorities of not providing food and alleging corruption in the supply of rice at fair price shops.

The journalists, wearing face masks, protested in front of the collectorate condemning the police action against the news portal. They appeared for the protest by wearing masks that had symbols of two locks on it.

In addition to Pandian's arrest, the protestors also opposed the unofficial detention of two journalists from the news portal by Coimbatore city police on Thursday.

The protestors including both television and newspaper reporters asked the government to revoke the case and demanded the protection of press freedom.

Prominent leaders condemn the action

Pandian's arrest was condemned by a host of politicians and associations including DMK leader MK Stalin, AMMK TTV Dhinakaran and actor-MNM leader Kamal Hassan. The DMK leader condemned the state government on the action for arresting Pandian "publishing news with facts."

Pandian was booked under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 505 (i) (b) (statement conducing public mischief) of IPC and Section 3 of Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.

tweet on the protest against Pandian's arrest
tweet on the protest against Pandian's arrest

According to the police officials, Pandian's news portal had posted a news item that claimed "PG doctors were struggling without food and ration shop employees were looting the dole given by the government for ration card holders." Such news, the police sources say, instigated the government doctors, health department staff and ration shop employees against the government.

On Wednesday, the RS Puram police sub-inspector R Mohanajothi registered a case against him under the above mentioned sections.

Meanwhile, the two other journalists of the online news portal were taken for investigation without any warrant.