Thiruvananthapuram: In a new turn to the row over campus magazines containing remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday resented the police action against the college authorities and student editors.
The government could not agree with any action against freedom of expression and the Inspector General, Thrissur, had been asked to inquire into the way the police proceeded in the two cases, he said replying to demands for grants for his departments in the state assembly.
Critical write-ups and cartoons on political leaders had been carried by journals and magazines earlier also. The government could not agree with taking action against magazine editors simply because it contained material criticising Modi, he said.
Earlier, participating in the debate, Deputy Leader of Opposition and senior CPI(M) legislator Kodiyeri Balakrishnan urged the government to withdraw the cases registered against student editors of campus magazines of the Government Polytechnic in Kuzhur and Sree Krishna College in Guruvayur.
Faced with legal action and political protests from BJP, the Sree Krishna College yesterday withdrew its campus magazine which contained unsavoury remarks against Modi.
Nine students of the college, including its student editor and editorial panel members, were arrested and let off on bail on Sunday.
They had been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot).
Police registered the case against these students as the magazine was found to have used "objectionable and unsavoury" language against Modi, garbed as a crossword puzzle.
In a similar case, the campus magazine of the polytechnic featured Modi in the list of "negative faces" along with Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, George Bush and a few other internationally-known figures.
The principal and a few students of the polytechnic were arrested and let off on bail last week after police had charged them under the same sections of the IPC.
In both the institutions, the student unions are controlled by CPI-M`s student outfit SFI.
Meanwhile the Students Federation of India described as highly condemnable, the arrest of students of the Government Polytechnic at Kuzhoor, its principal and staff by framing `fictitious` charges against them.
SFI state unit president Shiju Khan pointed out that the magazine was published in February 2014, while Modi assumed n office only in the third week of May and wondered what the hue and cry was all about.
It was highly `ill advised` to create a controversy, alleging defamation of the Prime Minister as Modi was only the Prime Ministerial candidate of a political party, he added.