Amid scathing criticism arising from different corners against an article he wrote and published, South Live Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Sebastian Paul continues to be firm on his stand which was made clear in the article. The former MP and noted media critic had on Sunday published an article in which he justified the prominent figures visiting actor Dileep in prison who has been booked by the police in connection with the actress abduction case. The article published by the online portal South Live is titled ‘Sympathy is no crime; Questions should be raised for Dileep as well‘.
Reacting to those who came out against him, Sebastian Paul told The Kochi Post that he just said what he felt right. “I don’t claim my stand is the ultimate truth. I have always taken a stand in matters I felt pressing. When lawyers and journalists got engaged in a clash a year ago, I stood with the journo fraternity. That time people asked me why I took that stand even when I am a lawyer,” he chuckled.
“The same people asked why I argued for a Muslim when I raised my voice for Abdul Nasser Madani. I replied that it’s not the religion of the person, but it is the conscience that drives me while making opinions. I am a citizen who strictly believes in the constitution. The rights of a citizen ensured by the constitution protect him even in prisons. The culprits are awarded punishment only as per the rule. Even though the public wants to punish a culprit based on what they feel, the rule has its own way,” he said.
He further said that he was never against the victim or has never been someone who took stands against women. “I have never said anything against the victim. The only thing that I made clear is that the accused actor has the protection of the law of land. The victim has never mentioned the actor’s name anywhere. Police had its observations and booked him and they have the right to do it. But prohibiting people to visit the accused and harassing him in public whenever he is taken to the court are the things I disagree. Sixty days is a crucial time frame in a remand period. That’s why I chose to make my opinion public. It has been seven months since the incident took place. Dileep has been serving prison for the past 60 days and the police are yet to prepare a chargesheet. This is dubious. So I raised my concerns at this point.” he said.
On the opposite side, his colleagues at South Live are critical about their senior’s stand. “My Facebook post is self-explanatory I guess. Throughout these days ever since the incident took place, South Live has maintained that the articles published were impartial and underlined the facts. And yes, we were all given the freedom to express our concerns. South Live is one of the most democratic work places ever. But this time, Dr. Sebastian Paul’s stand on the issue bothered us all in the editorial team. We had expressed our dissent even before he published it. However, he was particular about the matter to get published. So we took it to social media to make our stands clear,” said N. K. Bhoopesh, Executive Editor at South Live.
Bhoopesh in his Facebook post had stated that Sebastian Paul published the article which was in every sense against the earlier stand taken by South Live in the matter, without support from fellow journalists at the organisation.
Senior journalists at South Live including Maneesh Narayanan and C. P. Sathiaraj had expressed their disagreement with the article on social media platforms. The junior journalists have also shared Bhoopesh’s post which questioned the article.
“This is the first time such a massive disapproval of the content that is being published took place in South Live. We take it seriously as we have always taken a stand keeping the victim’s sufferings in mind. Besides, we had ensured that the stories had never affected the trial procedure. But this time, we fear the story will anyway influence the court proceedings,” said Maneesh.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Paul responded that the journalists who expressed their opposition to the article had the right to do it. “But posting against the article in social media with the intention to hurt the senior who published it is something different. They will have to face action,” he said.
Sebastian Paul added, ” People are making use of the situation to harass the accused again and again. Women’s safety concerns are being misused. I will be the first one to fight to ensure the highest possible punishment to Dileep, if he is found guilty.”
Sebastian Paul’s image from his Facebook profile.