There was widespread criticism against the “Cutting South” conclave in Kochi which was held in April. Showing South India separately in different colors in the brochure has been viewed as a deliberate attempt to ‘divide’. The organisers have now paved the way for reinforcing this assumption by stating that the programme had foreign funds. Dhanya Rajendran, the editor of ‘News Minute’, one of the prominent organisers of the programme, had reportedly said that Canadian High Commission had sponsored a session on ‘Climate Change’. She is reported to have said this while stating the Bengaluru Central Police. She had said that Kerala Media Academy had picked up the tab for the rest of the expenses. Dhanya is reported to have added that the programme had no truck with the outlawed Popular Front of India (PFI).
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have started inquiries into the financial sources of news portals ‘New Minute’ and ‘News Lawn Tree’. Both are central agencies that had reportedly got information that funding for extremist activities is camouflaged as news portal subscriptions.
A special team of Jammu and Kashmir Police had stated in the FIR submitted before NIA Court that extremists get foreign funds in this manner. These sorts of portals charge much higher subscription rates than the rates of the national mainstream portals. It is alleged that the customers are categorised as VIPs, VVIPs, and Game Changers and charge heavy subscription rates, in hundreds and thousands of rupees! Even though the name raised is ‘The Kashmir Wala Digital Media’, there are several other mysterious portals like this in several parts of the country, the report adds. Portals can use this for money laundering also. ‘Paid news’ also plays a major role.
It is alleged that ‘New Minute’ and ‘News Lawn Tree’, the media partners of the ‘Cutting South’ conclave, have the abovementioned subscription. The money sent as subscriptions by pro-extremist organisations go to the kitties of the extremists as hawala. Kerala Media Academy and Kerala Union of Working Journalists, an autonomous institution under the Government of Kerala and a body which remains close to Communist Party of India (CPM), respectively, were the partners in the conclave. So, functionaries of both the bodies are likely to be interrogated.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not call the programme during his online inaugural speech, “Cutting South”, but mentioned the “Global South” conclave. Observers believe that he did so due to the Intelligence reports.
Political observers of nationalist moorings consider the conclave as an attempt to propagate division between Uttar Bharat and Dakshin Bharat.
Even though the organisers had mentioned in their brochures that Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai was a prominent guest in the programme, Raj Bhavan distanced from it, stating that Raj Bhavan and Governor had not issued any communication in this regard. ‘Cutting South’ is not known to either Raj Bhavan or Governor.
Several ‘invitees’ are reportedly to have expressed their anger for using their names.