A media body in Kerala has hit out at governor Arif Mohammed Khan for reportedly barring four news channels from attending his press conference.
A statement released by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists described Khan’s act as “anti-democratic and deserving of protest”. “This is an attack on the freedom of the press,” the statement said.
The press conference in question took place yesterday, as part of Khan’s ongoing battle with the Pinarayi Vijayan government over the appointment of vice-chancellors to state universities. Khan has called for the resignation of nine vice-chancellors, alleging their appointments violate norms under the University Grants Commission.
The state government has accused Khan of “acting as a tool of the RSS” and instructed the vice-chancellors not to resign, . The Kerala High Court yesterday also said the vice-chancellors could continue in their positions until Khan passes a final order. “no one can be asked to tender resignation”.
However, after the announcement of Khan’s Monday press conference, four news channels – Kairali News, Reporter TV, MediaOne and Jai Hind – were not given permission to attend. According to the Telegraph, this was hours after Khan said “he would not entertain ‘cadre’ media”. MediaOne’s editor this was “undemocratic” and “an action that we don’t expect from a constitutional position like that of governor”.
This isn’t the first time MediaOne has been at the receiving end of attacks on its press freedom. On January 31, the channel went off air after the union ministry of information and broadcasting refused to renew its licence. In June, the central government it could not disclose why the channel was banned due to “national security”.
In 2020 too, MediaOne had been taken off air for being “critical towards Delhi police and RSS”. on what happened.