Nov. 8: Opposition parties closed ranks and the media braced for a “fight” with the Jayalalithaa regime, a day after the Tamil Nadu Assembly sentenced five senior journalists of The Hindu and the editor of the DMK mouthpiece to imprisonment for breach of privilege.
The Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by The Hindu as the first item on Monday. The petition, filed today, seeks a stay on the arrest warrants.
The DMK led a delegation of MPs and MLAs of Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu, including the Congress, the PMK and the CPI, to Delhi to brief Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee on the “extraordinary” developments.
The team, which includes leader of the Opposition K. Anbazhgan and former Chennai mayor M.K. Stalin, would also meet deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani.
In Delhi, Advani said he was “pained” by the Assembly’s action while Vajpayee expressed concern.
Yesterday, the Assembly had sentenced The Hindu’s editor, executive editor, publisher and two senior journalists to 15 days’ simple imprisonment for an editorial written in April on House proceedings. Later, police had raided the newspaper’s office.
The House also sentenced the editor of Murasoli, the DMK’s Tamil mouthpiece, for publishing a translation of the editorial, titled Rising Intolerance.
DMK chief M. Karunanidhi called upon Opposition parties in the state to participate in a “human chain agitation” on November 12.
As parties readied for a showdown, journalist Cho Ramaswamy said in Chennai that newspapers and journals should reproduce the editorial to let people see how “unjustified” the House decision was.
In Delhi, senior journalist Nihal Singh went a step further. “Let journalists unite and write many more such editorials. Let them face the music of a collective protest,” he said. “We will stand up against this onslaught on the media,” promised columnist Kuldip Nayyar.