Skip to main content

New York journalists' body seeks immediate release of Chhattisgarh reporter, criticizes attack on free speech

By Our Representative
The Influential New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has “immediately release” of Prabhat Singh, a reporter for the Hindi daily Patrika, who was arrested in the south Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on Monday.
Seeking investigation into the claim that he was mistreated in custody, a CPJ statement said, “Singh's arrest comes as two journalists were forced to flee the region, and two others have been jailed for months”, adding the arrest is “another sign of deteriorating climate for press in Chhattisgarh”.
Arrested under Section 67 of India's Information Technology (IT) Act in response to a complaint that he circulated "confrontational material" on the messaging service, WhatsApp, a local court has ordered Singh to be held in custody until March 30.
“Singh also faces charges from several cases police have filed against him in recent months, accusing him of forgery and cheating”, CPJ said quoting news reports in India, adding, “Singh has denied the previous allegations and said the cases were in reprisal for his critical reporting.” Chhattisgarh is ruled by BJP chief minister Raman Singh.
CPJ's Asia program senior research associate, Sumit Galhotra said, "The arrests and hounding of journalists and their defenders has given way to a climate of fear that risks turning parts of Chhattisgarh into a media black hole."
“Singh, who has worked for Patrika for more than three years, reports on sensitive stories, including an attack last month on human rights activist Soni Sori and alleged extrajudicial killings in the state, news reports said. He also raised critical questions of high-ranking police officers in news conferences”, CPJ said, referring to a Hindustan Times report.
“Vishnu Singh, the journalist's brother, told CPJ that Singh told him he had been beaten in police custody. He said that when he saw his brother today, the journalist had bruises on his hands and chest area. Vishnu Singh added that his brother told him he had been deprived of food in custody”, CPJ said, but regretted, “Several phone numbers listed in the police directory to seek police comment but no one answered.”
Quoting Singh's colleagues, CPJ said, “Men in plainclothes, whom they recognized as police, took the journalist from the paper's office in Dantewada district Monday evening. Colleagues searched for him, but Singh's whereabouts were not known until his court appearance”, which happened on March 22.
Earlier this month, CJP said, “Singh filed a complaint with Dantewada police against Samajik Ekta Manch, a group of activists that has previously harassed journalists, for labeling him an ‘anti-national’ on WhatsApp, according to reports.”
“Journalists and lawyers told CPJ during a visit to Chhattisgarh this month that there is a sustained campaign to silence critical reporting in parts of the state. The region has been the scene of a decades-long conflict between the security forces and Maoists”, the CPJ said, adding, “CPJ documented how BBC Hindi Service reporter Alok Prakash Putul and freelancer Malini Subramaniam were forced to flee Bastar last month over concern for their safety.”
“Subramaniam had been harassed by members of Samajik Ekta Manch”, CPJ said, adding,
“The lawyers of a legal aid clinic representing imprisoned journalists Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav, whom Chhattisgarh police arrested in 2015 on unsubstantiated allegations that they were aligned with Maoists, were also forced to leave the area. Both Nag and Yadav remain behind bars.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

'Allow critical thinking': SAARC-sponsored varsity teachers support protesting students

By Our Representative
Teachers of the high-profile South Asian University (SAU), a New Delhi-based international institute sponsored by eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have supported “peacefully protesting students and other citizens” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.