And they claim to stand for “Freedom of Press”

29th May 2019

29th May 2019

Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and his son, Nikhil (pic: courtesy Deccan Herald)

They may wail about the threats to freedom of press and champion the sanctity of Article 19(1)a of the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech, but in reality the Lutyens Media has adopted a freezing silence over the filing of First Information Report (FIR) against Vishweshwar Bhat the Editor in Chief of Kannada newspaper ‘Vishwavani’ in the state of Karnataka.

 The newspaper carried an article which reports an incident describing the unbecoming behavior of Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, at Radisson Blu hotel in Mysuru, after his loss in just-concluded Lok Sabha elections to the Kannada actress Sumalatha by around 1.27 lakh votes from Mandya Lok Sabha constituency.

 According to sources, Janata Dal (Secular) has alleged that the article about Nikhil Kumaraswamy was defamatory in nature.  Along with the newspaper’s Editor -in -chief, his staff  has been booked under IPC sections 499, 500, 501 (defamation), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation), 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), and 468 (forgery).

 Pradeep Kumar SP (36), a JDS party secretary filed a complaint with the Srirampura police  denying any such incident and blamed the newspaper for carrying a totally fictitious article. He stated nonchalantly: “Nothing had happened as published. The article not only brought disrepute to Nikhil but also has damaged and defamed the image of his family.” 

The article alleged that an infuriated and drunk Nikhil countered his grandfather, former prime minister HD Deva Gowda and blamed him for his humiliating loss at the hands of a woman. The article alleged that he vented his anger on the former PM by making him responsible for aborting his political career and went to the extent of abusing him. He also allegedly shouted, “You (former PM Deve Gowda) got me tangled in the Mandya labyrinth. In spite of having eight MLAs, we were not able to win. Didn’t HD Revanna gain the support of Congress in Hassan? Why weren’t you able to gain the support of Congress rebels Cheluvarayaswamy and Narendra Swamy?”

And those positioned in the Capital’s Lutyens, not a scratch of pen is noticed nor a murmur is heard in support of their brethren Vishweshwar Bhat. These media-men, who decry India being placed at 138th position in the report of ‘Reporters without borders,” seem to spring to action only if BJP could be shown in poor light.

However,  the Karnataka Union of Working Journalists on Tuesday wrote to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy condemning the filing of FIR against editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

 In a letter, the president of the association Shivanand Tagadooru wrote, “The police complaint filed against editor in chief of Vishwavani, Vishweshwar Bhat, is not right and condemnable. If there was any false news or factually incorrect information in the news article, demanding that it be corrected is the right procedure.” He alleged that the filing the police complaint amounts to carrying of “undertones of hatred”. 

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