Bengaluru, Oct 1 (IANS) Condemning the police raid on a Kannada news channel’s office in the city recently, the Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) on Wednesday demanded that Power TV be allowed to resume broadcasts.
“Police should restore the servers they took away after raiding the Power TV office in the city to enable it restart its Kannada news channel broadcast,” IJU President K. Sreenivas Reddy said in a statement here.
The operations of the news channel, which recently aired an investigative story on alleged corruption by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s younger son B.Y. Vijayendra and other relatives, have been suspended since Monday as the city Central Crime Branch sleuths took away its servers.
“The police raid on the office and studio of the news channel and stoppage of its transmission is an attack on the freedom of press and expression, which is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution,” Reddy said.
Extending its support to the news channel, its editors and journalists, the IUJ said it would stand by them in their hour of crisis and render help to fight against the police’s “high-handed action”.
The Karnataka Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) on Tuesday appealed to Yediyurappa to allow the news channel to function, instead of shutting its operations till investigation into the case against it was completed.
“As about 250 journalists are employed in the news channel, police investigation into its case should not come in the way of their work,” it said in a representation to the Chief Minister.
The city police on September 24 registered a case of intimidation, forgery, extortion, cheating and criminal conspiracy against Power TV Editor Rakesh Shetty on a complaint filed by the city-based Ramalingam Construction Company Ltd director Chandrakanth Ramalingam.
Ramalingam alleged in the complaint that Shetty coerced him into saying he made payments to political persons and recorded their conversations.
The complaint also alleged that Shetty had approached Ramalingam in June, claiming he had connections to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and hence would be able to get central and state contracts to his construction firm.
The news channel ran a documentary in August using audio-video clips recorded of alleged conversations between Shetty and Vijayendra, who is also a Vice President of the ruling BJP’s state unit.
Chats between a construction firm official and Vijayendra on Whatsapp platform and bank documents showing large deposits in firms linked to the latter were also shown in the programme.
According to the complaint, a copy of which was tabled in the Assembly on September 26 by Law Minister J.C. Madhuswamy, the construction firm paid the news channel official Rs 25 lakh after receiving Rs 7.79 crore from the state-run Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), which comes under the Chief Minister.