Chennai: Politicians and activists have slammed the charges against veteran journalist and editor Nakkeeran Gopal arrested by the Chennai police for allegedly defaming Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit.

Soon after Gopal’s arrest at the Chennai airport, many, including politicians and activists questioned why the police arrested him when the Governor could have filed a defamation case instead.

Leader of Opposition and DMK president M.K. Stalin said the arrest of Gopal showed that there was no freedom of press in Tamil Nadu.

“It shows that the BJP government at the Centre is controlling in Tamil Nadu. The BJP government is using the governor to make the AIADMK government surrender itself in an attempt to bury democracy in the state,” he said.

DMK MP Kanimozhi slammed the Tamil Nadu government and said that Gopal’s arrest points to selective application of law in the state.

“The government is able to act so swiftly now but nothing has moved in S Ve Shekher’s or H. Raja’s case. This is undemocratic and an attempt to muzzle freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” she said.

General secretary of the VCK D. Ravikumar, who is also a lawyer, also condemned Gopal’s arrest on ‘frivolous grounds’ stating that Section 124 is not applicable in Gopal’s case.

“Section 124 is a special provision for Governors and President of India. It is against any physical attack. It is not meant for criticism. If the Governor feels it is defamatory, he can file a defamation case. In fact, anyone can. Using Section 124 is not correct,” he said.

The journalist community, condemned the arrest of the editor, stating that it was an action that attempted to suppress the freedom of the press.

Bharathi Tamil, the joint secretary of the Chennai Press Club, said if the government is going to book a journalist for sedition, then it would be much easier for them to issue an order declaring all journalists as traitors. “This would make the current government under Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami to go down in history,” he said.

Calling this arrest an action by the government against all journalists, he said, “There is no freedom of speech, expression or thought in this state. This arrest shows that the government wants journalists to write only good things about it like an advertisement.”

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