In a shocking incident, On July 28 members of Hindu Jagarana Vedike attacked a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore.
Naveen Soorinje was the journalist who exposed this action but was fasely implicated in the case and arrested on November 7, 2012. Recently, his bail application was rejected on December 26, 2012.
Instead of being complimented for his fearless reportage, he was arrested by the Mangalore police on charges under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention)Act, the Indian Penal Code from “rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police have also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.
Soorinje's report, titled 'The Talibanisation of Mangalore', was actually vital evidence of the brutality of the attack and the molestation and
assault on the youth. Instead, he was charged with the same offences as that of the attackers.
The police arrested 31 people in connection with the attack and Soorinje was lodged in the same sub-jail as them until a
protest from the Mangalore Union of Working Journalists forced police to lodge him separately.
In his order rejecting Naveen's bail application, the Karnataka High
Court judge, Keshava Narayana, relied on police evidence that Naveen was
absconding, when in fact, he was very much present in the area and had covered important and routine assignments between July and November, including the visit of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the area.
In the short span of seven years, Soorinje had made a mark as a
journalist in the region for his coverage of powerful groups including Hindutva organizations, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India, the
pontiff of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, who is the guru of former Madhya Pradesh CM Uma Bharti, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade, among others. Besides, he wrote exposes on corrupt policemen and even exposes on journalists taking gifts in return
Clearly, the arrest and charges against him smack of vendetta and
designed to work as a 'chilling effect' on independent reportage in this region.
His continued incarceration cannot and must not act as a deterrent to fair
and accurate journalism and we demand that he be released forthwith and thecharges against him dropped.
Join me in telling R Ashok, Home Minister, Karnataka to release Naveen Soorinje and drop all charges aganst him, as he's innocent!