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Tamil Nadu Attacks Freedom of the Press

Steven Ross is associate professor of professional practice at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, NY.

South Asian Journalists Association (S.A.J.A.), Nov. 7, 2003

Police, acting under an 'arrestment' order granted by the state of Tamil Nadu, entered the main editorial offices of The Hindu a few hours ago in Chennai (Madras) without showing warrants, in an attempt to arrest five editors and reporters over unhappiness with coverage. N. Ram (68), editor-in-chief and winner of our Alumni Award last year, was apparently not on the arrest list. The five are apparently in hiding. The order is for 15 days imprisonment.

This sort of thing is not unheard of in India, especially these days. Regional newspapers have been under plenty of sectarian pressure for some time. But as far as I know, no government authority has tried to arrest staff of a paper as powerful, well established and well known as The Hindu. The attempt alone is a tragedy for press freedom in India.