"No Permission For Debate": Palaniswami Defends Cases Against Channel

The government honoured freedom of expression but had a responsibility to take action to maintain communal harmony and law and order situation, Chief Minister K Palaniswami told the state assembly.

'No Permission For Debate': Palaniswami Defends Cases Against Channel

Chief Minister K Palaniswami said a decision will be taken after completion of the probe. (File)

Chennai:  The Tamil Nadu government today virtually defended the cases filed against a Tamil TV news channel and others over a debate, saying no police permission was granted for it and blamed communally sensitive remarks by some participants for the trouble at the event.

The government honoured freedom of expression but had a responsibility to take action to maintain communal harmony and law and order situation, Chief Minister K Palaniswami told the state assembly.

Responding to demands by opposition parties, led by DMK, for withdrawal of the cases, he also said a decision on their plea would be taken after completion of the probe into the trouble during the "Round Table debate on people's right to protest" conducted by the channel in Coimbatore on June 8.

The police have registered against 'Puthiya Thalaimurai' channel and its reporter, who had booked a private college for holding the debate, legislator U Thaniyarasu and film director Ameer.

Various journalists' organisations and political parties have criticised the police action.

Raising the issue in the assembly, the leader of the opposition MK Stalin of DMK said his party condemned filing of cases and Mr Ameer and sought withdrawal of them.

Congress Legislature Party leader KR Ramasamy and allies of the ruling AIADMK, Mr Thaniyarasu (Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai) and M Thamimun Ansari (Jayananayaka Manithaneya Makkal Katchi) too endorsed his demand.

Mr Palaniswami cited the police probe into the matter and said "action will be taken," based on its outcome.

Noting that the recent Tuticorin incidents (related to violence and police firing during the anti-Sterlite protests) were also discussed in the debate, he said such references could affect law and order situation in the port town.

Giving a detailed account, he said police had not given permission for holding the event though security was provided considering the participation of leaders from various parties.

When the police was approached over the event, it advised the channel against holding such shows in communally sensitive Coimbatore, as it may lead to law and order issues, he said.

For about an hour and half the event went off without any problems and "when Thaniyarasu remarked about Babri mosque demolition and things unrelated to the debate, it led to some ripples," he said.

After the lawmaker, when Mr Ameer "spoke about some controversial views," it was objected by "supporters of a particular party," he said referring BJP supporters without naming the party.

Slogans were raised against the director, he said adding "despite a leader (BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan) of that party pacifying them, ruckus continued and the show was ended (by the organisers)."

The unedited video footage of the show containing Mr Ameer's controversial remarks was with the police, he said.

Cases have been registered based on complaints from officials of the private auditorium, he said.

The channel has allegedly booked the hall saying only students will be the participants in the debate.

Referring to discussions about the Tuticorin incidents, he said: "Such debate shows must have been avoided when cases are pending about Tuticorin incidents at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court and when Justice Aruna Jagadeesan led one person inquiry commission is probing it."

Only due to the deployment of police personnel, a clash was averted at the show, he said.

Pointing out that Coimbatore was a city vulnerable to "religion related problems," the Chief Minister appealed to the media to act responsibly and decide if such shows that may impair public peace were warranted.

Coimbatore had witnessed several communal incidents in the past besides the serial bomb blasts in 1998.

The Tamil channel and its reporter (who booked the hall) have been charged under IPC sections 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (A) (statements conducing to public mischief) and section 3(1) of Tamil Nadu Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act.

Mr Ameer and Mr Thaniyarasu have been booked under IPC sections 153 (A) and 505.

Meanwhile, a group of mediapersons staged a demonstration in front of the district collectorate in Coimbatore today demanding withdrawal of the cases.

Covering their mouth with black clothes, the journalists and cameramen, raised slogans against police, terming their action as on attack on the freedom of press.

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