The Press Club, Mumbai demands the immediate release from jail of the Managalore-based television journalist, Naveen Soorinje. Trumped up charges by police against him should also be dropped forthwith. Soorinje, the Mangalore district reporter for Kasturi Newz24, had exposed the attack by activists of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore in July, last year.
He was arrested much later on November 9 by the Mangalore police on charges under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, as well as the IPC for "rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police have also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.
Soorinje was ironically charges with the same offences that his report, titled 'The Talibanisation of Mangalore', exposed — the attack and molestation of a group of young people. His bail application was rejected in December by the the Karnataka High Court judge, Keshava Narayana, who relied on police reports that Naveen was absconding, when in fact, he was very carrying out his normal functions as a reporter.
Soorinje had become known as a bold journalist in the region for his coverage and exposure of powerful religious factions like the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India, the pontiff of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade, among others. Besides, he had targetted sever corrupt policemen. His arrest seems to be a retaliatory action by the police to cow down independent journalism. Naveen Soorinje should be released forthwith.