Journalists belonging to several Malayalam-language channels were arrested in Mangalore by police, according to reports from the media concerned.
According to the channels, their television crews were reporting from Wenlock hospital, where the bodies of those killed in yesterday’s shooting are kept, when a police team led by a senior official asked all who did not have a government ID to clean the premises.
Asian News also said his reporter had been detained in a police van, along with press teams from several other news outlets.
Asianet News, controlled by Bangalore-based Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said its reporter was able to report from the field until around 8 a.m.
The channel aired footage of a senior police official removing people from the media saying that only those with government IDs will be allowed to stay.
The central government issues identity cards to journalists and often restricts access to central government functions to those with such identity cards. However, journalists working in states like Kerala and Karnataka rarely use such identity cards – which are very difficult to obtain – as they do not need them to cover state government functions.
Asian News quoted local journalist Anish Balan as saying that local journalists, who were also asked to clean up the scene, were allowed to leave the scene and were not arrested.
Reports have indicated that crews from other neighboring states, such as those from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, have also been taken into custody.
UPDATE: Kerala State Police Chief Loknath Behera said he asked his compatriot in Karnataka to release the journalists. “Those who do not engage in violence and do their duty certainly have the right to do so, and I made a request [to Karnataka police to allow them to do so],” he said.
Kerala Minister EP Jayarajan condemned the Karnataka police action and urged the media “not to back down from exposing injustices”. However, he did not say whether the government of Kerala would register a protest with the government of Karnataka.
Congress leader AK Antony said many journalists from multiple states have been taken into custody. “I call on the government of Karnataka to immediately release all these journalists,” he said.
Karnataka police are trying to bring the situation on the ground in Mangalore under control after two people were killed in a shootout yesterday.
Protesters are speaking out against a new law that treats undocumented residents in India differently based on their religion. Those who believe in certain religions will be put on the path to citizenship, while those who do not belong to those religions – including atheists and Muslims – will be considered illegal aliens.
The Mangalore protests were part of nationwide protests against the new law.
Except in Uttar Pradesh and Mangalore, the protests have been largely peaceful. In both places, demonstrators set fire to parked vehicles and threw stones at the police.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Tourism and Culture Minister CT Ravi said on Wednesday that the BJP is doing what people want. “Anyone who opposes it is against democracy and the people’s mandate.
Ravi said there was no need to threaten the BJP and that it was because of people like them that the riots in Godhra took place.