Mangaluru, Dec 20, 2019: Journalists and crew from at least four Kerala-based news channels - News 24, Media One, Asianet, Mathrubhumi Kerala - have been stopped from reporting in Mangaluru in Karnataka, where two people died yesterday in police firing amid protests against the new citizenship law. In a video of the incident, a senior police officer stops a reporter while he is on-air and demands to see identification. On being shown what appears to be an ID card, the cop can be heard shouting: "No, that is not accreditation... not government-issued... Out!" In total at least 30 journalists have been detained by police over what they say is "improper accreditation" as to NDTV.
This morning the Mangaluru Police Commissioner’s office issued a statement that says: "Few people not having any accreditation cards issued by any authority, not from any formal media and in possession of many things unconnected to reporting are being questioned". The statement also says "further action" will be initiated once verification is complete.
The four news channels were reportedly in Mangaluru to interview the relatives of those who were killed during massive nationwide protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, on Thursday.
In the video, a senior police officer, accompanied by at least a dozen colleagues - at least two of whom are armed - walks out of a compound guarded by a yellow-coloured gate; the reporter, who appears to be from Media One, was standing with his back to the gate.
"Where is it? No... no. Please switch it off. Show your accreditation card... prove that you are a genuine media person. Switch it off (to the cameraperson)," the senior officer says.
As the camera continues rolling the reporter continues reporting and shows the officer what appears to be an ID card. The police officer says: "No, that is not accreditation...it is not government-issued. You don’t have access... only accredited journalists," adding, "Out!"
At this point another police officer places his hand on the microphone and makes a warning noise before the cops herd the reporter and the cameraperson away.
Protests were held in 13 major cities yesterday - the eighth consecutive day of unrest - over the new citizenship law that is emerging as the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since his election in 2014.
In Mangaluru, two persons died in police firing, city police confirmed. Curfew has been declared in the city till Saturday and mobile internet suspended for the next 48 hours. During the day, the police opened fire as the protesters and police clashed.
The law promises citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who moved to India by 2014. Critics say it challenges the foundations of India’s secular constitution by making religion a criterion for citizenship.