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

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”

Human rights 'abuses': Funding to India should be vetted, Greens tell Australian govt

Counterview Desk
A roundtable organised by Australian Greens, which is the third biggest political group in the country, held to discuss human rights situation in India at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney has insisted that parliamentarians, human rights activists and lawyers should play a more active role “standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India.”

Degrading conditions amidst Covid-19: Toxic ship at Alang, Gujarat, 'endangers' migrants

Counterview Desk
Evironmental activist Dr Gopal Krishna, who edits the ToxicsWatch journal, in an open letter to the chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee, Union Ministry of Shipping, with copies to the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and other Government of India ministries* has said that there exists “threat to Indian maritime environment and security from viral diseases like Covid-19 from ballast water and toxic substances.”