Is everybody naked in a newspaper’s hamaam?


If you don’t like the message, shut out the messenger?

Two weeks ago, the Indian government threatened to file a First Information Report against two reporters of The Times of India, Nirmalya Banerjee and Prabin Kalita, for authoring “wrong” reports of a conflagration between Indian and Chinese troops in Northeast India. The move was thankfully shelved.

Now, the Tamil Nadu police have arrested B. Lenin, a news editor of the Tamil newspaper Dina Malar.

Reason: the large-circulation paper had published the reported confessions in custody of Bhuvaneshwari (the actress who played the role of a call girl in Boys) who was arrested recently for running a high-profile prostitution racket.

Apparently, the actress who was picked up in a police sting, had named several other female stars from tinseltown who also indulged in flesh trade or ran brothels.

The newspaper printed the story with the pictures of the other actresses allegedly named by Bhuvaneshwari.

Bhuvaneshwari reportedly claimed that these top heroines charge as much as Rs 1 lakh for an hour’s service.

Tamil movie artistes took out a protest at the slander and then, acting on a complaint a complaint filed by Radha Ravi, general secretary of the South Indian Film Artistes Association, the police came knocking and charged Lenin under section 4 of the Tamil Nadu women harassment (prevention) Act for “indecent representation of women“.

The Chennai Press Club and the Madras union of journalists have slammed the news editor’s arrest, and urged for his release. Union general secretary D. Suresh Kumar wondered how the police arrived at the conclusion that Lenin was responsible for the offending news report.

Clearly, the actresses and their families have been slandered, and there is a fit case for defamation. But the arrest of an editor who may or may not have had a role in the original story?

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy Sriviews

Also read: Censorship in the name of national interest?