Karnataka Cabinet has given green signal for the withdrawal of criminal cases against Naveen Soorinje, a television journalist with Kasturi news channel. Soorinje has been suffering from chicken pox in jail and has been denied bail.
Soorinje had reported on the incident of a party at Morning Mist guest house which was attacked Hindu Jagarana Vedike. As a reporter of Kasturi Newz24, he had exposed the Jul 28 attack by activists of the fundamentalist Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls celebrating a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore.
But Soorinje himself was arrested on Nov 7 by the Mangalore police on charges of "rioting with deadly weapons," criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.
Earlier this month, Editors Guild of India had asked the Karnataka government to review the case against the reporter and withdraw "unreasonable" charges against him.
Instead of being made a witness, Sorrinje was included as one among the group of people who attacked the homestay and his name was mentioned in the FIR last Jul as an accused. "The Guild appeals to the state authorities to review the case and withdraw unreasonable charges against Soorinje.
"Journalists going about their work in the ordinary line of duty should not be subjected to the risk of being prosecuted on the basis of unsubstantiated charges, as that would constitute an assault on press freedom," the Guild had said in a statement.
It also regretted that Soorinje, who contracted chicken pox in jail, has been denied bail and a noted that a meeting between journalists and Karnataka Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar have not yielded any results.
Even the Mumbai Press Club had written to Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju requesting him to intervene for securing the release of Soorinje.
"The Mumbai Press Club demands the immediate release of Soorinje. Trumped up charges by the police against him should also be dropped forthwith," the press club had written.