In a change of stand, days after resenting police action against student editors over campus magazines containing remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday said though the government respected freedom of expression, it was not proper to depict a person in any manner.
Replying to a Communist Party of India (Marxist) submission in the assembly seeking withdrawal of the cases registered against the students and others, he said, “Government respects freedom of expression. But, it is not proper to portray a person in any manner.”
It was good to avoid such illustration of a person that would led to ‘social tension’, he said, adding that government would take a decision on the matter after getting the report of the Inspector General of Police, Thrissur region, who has been asked to look into the issue.
Chennithala had on June 17 resented police action against college authorities and student editors and said the government could not agree with any action against freedom of expression.
Babu M Pallissery, CPI-M, in his submission urged the government to withdraw the cases registered against student editors of campus magazines of the Government Polytechnic in Kuzhur and SreeKrishnaCollege in Guruvayur. They had been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot).
Faced with legal action and political protests from Bharatiya Janata Party, the SreeKrishnaCollege had withdrawn its campus magazine which contained unsavoury remarks against Modi. Nine students of the college, including its student editor and editorial panel members, were arrested and let off on bail.
GuruvayurSreeKishnaCollege magazine was found to have used “objectionable and unsavoury” language against Modi, garbed as a crossword puzzle. The campus magazine of the polytechnic featured Modi in the list of “negative faces” along with Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden and a few other internationally-known figures.