Tamil media persons, actors at war

Chennai : The arrest of a news editor of a leading Tamil daily has sparked off a full-fledged war between the journalists in the state and movie actors.

On Thursday, members of the Chennai Press Club (CPC) and members of the Madras Union of Journalists submitted a memorandum to the city police commissioner demanding the arrest of several leading actors for defaming them and their family members.

The journalists’ union has demanded the arrest of the actors under the same law under which B. Lenin, news editor of Dinamalar, was arrested Wednesday evening from his office for permitting the publication of a news item that hurt the sentiments of some female actors.

Lenin was remanded in custody till Oct 21.

On Sunday, the daily had published a news report with the names and photos of several leading lights of the Tamil cinema as involved in prostitution.

The report was based on the statement given to police by actor Bhuvaneswari, who was arrested a day earlier for running a high-profile prostitution racket from her home.

However, the daily paper published an unconditional apology the next day.

Not satisfied with it, the actors moved their association – South India Film Artistes Association (SIFAA) – which lodged a police complaint on the basis of which the police arrested the senior journalist.

What has angered the media is the “gutter language” used by some actors at the SIFAA meeting held here Wednesday evening.

Speaking to IANS, Chennai Press Club joint secretary Bharathitamizhan said: “The normal redressal course for a person affected by a news report is to file a defamation case or lodge a complaint with the Press Council of India.”

“The city police and the state government have set a wrong precedent by arresting a news editor,” said another journalist.

“We agree it was a great mistake to have published that report. Realising the mistake, we immediately published an unconditional apology,” R. Rangaraj Pandey, chief reporter of Dinamalar, told IANS.

Pandey said he is confident Lenin would be released on bail though he is booked under an unbailable section.

“We will consult our lawyers on the possibility of filing defamation suits against the actors who spoke, defaming the journalists and their female family members,” he added.

He said the journalists would submit a memorandum to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who has his roots in the movie world but prides himself as a journalist.

Meanwhile, journalists’ unions across the state have condemned Lenin’s arrest.

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