Skip to main content

Chhattisgarh journos' arrest: Now cops "circulating" cartoons on mobile, social media alleging Maoist link

Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag
By Our Representative
In development, which is likely to further add to the eroding image of the Modi government vis-a-vis human rights and freedom of expression, some of the top world world bodies have thrown their weight behind the campaign to release two Chhattisgarh journalists, Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag, arrested last year for their alleged Naxalite connections.
Those who have signed the letter include Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists; Andrew Heslop, Director, Press Freedom, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers; Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists; Daniel Calingaert, Executive Vice President Freedom House; and Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director, Free Expression Programs, PEN American Center.
These organizations have joined Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director, Human Rights Watch, and Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India, to write a letter to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, and Union home minister Rajnath Singh, among others, expressing their “deep concern” over the journalists’ continued detention.
Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav were held in July and September 2015, respectively. The letter wants “authorities to drop all charges against Nag and Yadav, and to ensure a safer working environment for journalists in the state”, adding, they were victims of a situation in which  journalists are "caught between Maoists and government forces.”
Authorities arrested Yadav, a freelance journalist, whose reporting included allegations of human rights abuses by the police "against adivasi or tribal communities" on September 29, 2015. Police accused Yadav of "rioting, criminal conspiracy, and attempted murder", “associating with a terrorist organization” and “supporting and aiding terrorist groups”.
As for Nag, who covered rural issues such as access to water and electricity for "Patrika" newspaper and others, was arrested on July 16, 2015, with police accusing him of being “a Maoist sympathizer and collaborating with a group of villagers to set fire to equipment being used to build roads in the state.” Nag faces charges of "banditry, arson, and criminal conspiracy under the penal code as well as under the Arms Act."
Agreeing that “for decades, Maoist groups—designated as terrorist organizations by the Indian government—have led an insurgency in the central tribal areas of the country”, the letter states, “Unfortunately, journalists have been caught between Maoists and government forces.”
Quoting a research by New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the letter says, “Police often pressure, harass, or abuse journalists in an effort to silence their critical reporting or compel them to serve as informants. Meanwhile Maoists have been responsible for attacking journalists they accuse of being informants for police.”
Thus, “While Maoists claimed responsibility for the 2013 murder of veteran journalist Sai Reddy of Deshbandhu, he had also faced harassment at the hands of police”, the letter says.
In a disturbing development, the letter says, last month, police officials in Chhattisgarh “circulated cartoons on mobile messaging and social networking sites linking journalists to Maoists”, pointing out how such actions could “further endanger journalists who are already vulnerable to violence from all sides.”
Seeking the journalists’ "swift release", the letter wants the Chhattisgarh chief minister to abide by his “commitment in a meeting last month with local journalists to find a resolution”, insisting, “We ask that you do all in your power to ensure their swift release, and to take immediate steps to address the violence and harassment that journalists face in the state.”

Comments

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.