India: Arbitrary arrest of journalist Nakheeran Gopal at Chennai Airport
October 10, 2018, 3:13 am
Status of Human Rights Defender:
Mr. Gopal is the Editor of Nakheeran, a Tamil bi-weekly magazine based in Chennai,
Tamil Nadu. Mr. Gopal has a journalistic experience of over two decades covering
sensitive social and political issues.
Details of the Incident
Mr. Gopal, was arrested around 8AM at the Chennai airport when he was about to
board a flight to Pune for attending an event there, by a team of police personnel from
Chennai City Police. It is learned that Mr. Gopal has been accused of defaming the
Governor and is charged under Section 124 of Indian Penal Code.
He has been arrested for carrying out an article in his magazine few weeks ago
regarding the alleged scandal involving Tamil Nadu college professor Nirmala Devi,
who was arrested in the “sex-for-marks” scam. She has been charged for forcing and
luring girl students into offering sexual favours to university officials in return for marks.
Many audio clippings of the conversations between Nirmala Devi trying to lure girl
students were leaked, which erupted to a political controversy and led to her arrest.
This case was transferred to the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch Â– Criminal Investigation
In the recent article in Nakheeran, it was claimed that Nirmala Devi had confessed to
the CB-CID officers in meeting the Governor of Tamil Nadu Mr. Banwarilal Purohit,
who is also chancellor of the university, and R Rajagopal IAS, Secretary of Raj
Bhavan, with girl students at Raj Bhavan and other places too. The Governor has
denied the allegations and clarified that he never met the accused professor by holding
a press meet and also appointed a one-member inquiry commission headed by former
IAS officer R Santhanam.
HRDA is of the view that this is a clear case of attack on freedom of press and
intimidation. No proper due process has been followed by the police after a complaint
had been registered regarding the article in Nakheeran, and no summons were issued
to him to investigate on the complaint. Instead, the police had arrested a senior
journalist arbitrarily at the airport.