Appeal to Release Journalists Jailed in Chhattisgarh

IN Media Freedom | 27/11/2015
Journalists and activists petition ministers for the release of jailed Chhattisgarh journalists.
The TEXT of the appeal
(left) Santosh Yadav, (right) Somaru Nag

 

 

A petition has been submitted to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Dr.Raman Singh, the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Minister of Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and the Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram by 160 journalists and members of civil society, asking for the release of two journalists in Chhattisgarh, jailed in July and September.  It reads as follows:

 

We, the undersigned journalists and members of civil society, are deeply concerned about the reports of the arrest and custodial torture of two Hindi language journalists Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag, in September and July this year, from the Darbha block of Southern Bastar in Chhattisgarh, on the charge of supporting Maoists.

Santosh Yadav, was arrested by police on September 29 2015 and Somaru Nag, an Adivasi journalist, was arrested on July 16 2015. Yadav used to report for multiple Hindi newspapers including Dainik Navbharat and Dainik Chhattisgarh. Nag was a stringer-cum-news agent with Rajasthan Patrika.

While Nag has been charged under the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, Yadav has been charged under the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act (CPSA). There is no clarity as to the charges against them, or the evidence which the police hold about their alleged involvement with Maoists.

According to these reports (Arrested, tortured and Jailed in South Bastar and Truth has two versions in Bastar), Yadav's name was added to a case where 18 villagers were arrested and charged with an encounter, which took place on 21st August during a road-opening operation by the security forces in which a Special Police Officer was killed. Nag was charged with keeping a look out on the movements of the police, while a group burnt a crusher plant employed in road construction in ChoteKadma on 26th June.

Local lawyers and members of the People's Union of Civil Liberties said that police had been harassing SantoshYadav for several months now, ever since he began reporting on the conflict between the police and the Maoists. While the police personnel state that he had links with the Maoists, civil liberties activists allege that the police was pressurizing Yadav to become an informer for them.

The arrests have only brought to the fore the extremely precarious condition of journalists reporting from these conflict areas, in particular journalists who live and work in rural areas. They face a Hobson's choice, and their reportage as well as their independence and their very safety, is severely compromised. In this situation, police arrests end up intimidating and silencing all independent voices.

Somaru Nag and SantoshYadav’s arrests have contributed to a deep sense of insecurity amongst journalists in the state and a fear that, not just their work, but their own lives, will be in danger if they venture out to do any independent investigation, or stories that are critical of either the security forces or the Maoists. Either way, they face a threat, and these arrests suggest that journalists cannot expect any protection under the law from police and security forces.

In order to protect their right to work and report freely, the local journalists have formed a PatrakaarSurakshaKanoonSanyuktSangharshSamiti (United Struggle Body for the Security of Journalists). This body has demanded

  1. that Somaru Nag and SantoshYadav be immediately released;

  2. that the state create conditions for reporters to work and travel freely, and without fear or harassment;

  3. that the practice of fake arrests stop and that the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act be repealed or not used against reporters;

  4. And finally, an investigation into the methods adopted by senior police official S.R.P.Kalluri, who has created an atmosphere of terror in the Bastar region, especially against the media.

 

The full petition is attached.

 

The signatories so far:

  1.  MrinalPande, Chairperson, The Media Foundation, Delhi
  2. Ravish Kumar, Senior Executive Editor, NDTV, Delhi
  3. Shekhar Gupta, Television Anchor and Columnist, Delhi
  4. Aruna Roy, MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan
  5. Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor-in-Chief, The Wire, Delhi
  6. Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor, India Today Group, New Delhi
  7. Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate Supreme Court, Trustee Lawyers  Collective, Delhi
  8. Sagarika Ghose, Consulting Editor, Times of India, New Delhi
  9. Vipul Mudgal, Common Cause & Foundation for Media Professionals
  10. Dileep Padgaonkar, former editor, Times of India, Pune
  11. Shoma Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Catch News, Delhi
  12. Nitin Desai, Economist and Columnist
  13. Bharat Bhushan, Editor, Catch News, Delhi
  14. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Senior Journalist, Delhi
  15. Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist, Delhi
  16. Harsh Mander, Social Worker and Writer, Delhi
  17. Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, Mumbai
  18. Kalpana Sharma, Journalist, Mumbai
  19. Seema Mustafa, The Citizen, Delhi
  20. Raman Kirpal, Editor, DNA
  21. Siddharth Dube, Contributing Editor, Caravan Magazine
  22. Subir Bhaumik, Former BBC Correspondent, Kolkata
  23. Mannika Chopra, Managing Editor, Social Change, New Delhi
  24. Sevanti Ninan, Thehoot.org, Delhi
  25. Dr. Shujaat Bukhari, Editor-in-Chief, Rising Kashmir, Srinagar
  26. Sujata Madhok, Delhi Union of Journalists
  27. M J Pandey, Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists
  28. Nikhil Dey, MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan
  29. Ammu Joseph, Senior Journalist, Bengaluru
  30. Shubhranshu Choudhary, CGNetSwara, Raipur
  31. Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, Mumbai
  32. Nupur Basu, Filmmaker and Journalist, Bengaluru
  33. Ashis Kothari, Pune
  34. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre
  35. Madhusree Mukherjee, Writer, Germany
  36. Ravi Rebbapragada, Editor, Dhimsa
  37. Chitrangada Choudhury, Journalist & Researcher, Bhubaneshwar
  38. Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
  39. Pushpa Achanta, Journalist, Bengaluru
  40. Manisha Sethi, Academic, Delhi
  41. Arudra Burra, IIT, Delhi
  42. Kamayani Bal Mahabal, Independent Journalist, Mumbai
  43. Rohit Chopra, Professor, Santa Clara University
  44. Kaveri Gill, Independent Researcher
  45. Ishan Tankha, Photographer, Delhi
  46. Rahul Basu, Goa
  47. Aniket Aga, Yale University
  48. Manoj Gopal krishnan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
  49. Kiran Shaheen, Independent Journalist, Delhi
  50. Pushpendra, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  51. Aritra Bhattacharya, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  52. Arunima Kaushik, Mumbai University
  53. Stan Swamy, Ranchi
  54. Linda Chhakchhuak, Grassroots Options, Shillong
  55. Revati Laul, Independent Journalist, Ahmedabad
  56. Karen Dias, Photographer, Mumbai
  57. Rajashri Dasgupta, Independent Journalist, Kolkata
  58. Javed Iqbal, Journalist and Photographer, Mumbai
  59. Paroma Mukherjee, Photographer, Delhi
  60. Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad
  61. Vani Rupela, Speech Pathologist, Fairfax
  62. Nilanjana Bhowmick, Independent Journalist, Delhi
  63. Arti Jaiman, Station Director, Gurgaon kiAwaaz
  64. Smita Nair, Journalist, Mumbai
  65. Akhileshwari, Journalist
  66. Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai
  67. Dilip D’Souza, Writer, Mumbai
  68. Shahina KK, Assistant Editor,OPEN
  69. Sudhir Pattnaik, Editor, Bhubaneswar
  70. Raksha Kumar, Journalist, Bangalore
  71. Aditya Sinha, Journalist
  72. Dilnaz Boga, Journalist, Mumbai
  73. Rohini Mohan, Journalist, Bangalore
  74. Laxmi Murthy, Consulting Editor, HimalSouthasian, Bangalore
  75. Soumyadipta Banerjee, Journalist, Mumbai
  76. Sumi Krishna, Writer, Bangalore
  77. Freny Manecksha, Journalist, Mumbai
  78. Noor Enayat, Brand Consultant, Delhi
  79. Sobhi Mohanty, Government Consultant, Bhubaneshwar
  80. Ananya Vajpeyi,  Professor, Delhi
  81. Sibi Arasu, Independent Journalist, Chennai
  82. Govind Krishnan, Fountain Ink, Bangalore
  83. Latika Padgaonkar, Pune
  84. Nikita Sud, Associate Professor, Oxford University
  85. N P Chekutty, Editor, Thejas Daily, Calicut
  86. Kartikeya Date, Academician, Haifa
  87. Ruchi Sharma. Freelance Journalist, New York, USA
  88. Anuradha Nagaraj, Journalist, Chennai
  89. Priyanshu Gupta, IIM Kolkata
  90. Suvir Kaul, University of Pennsylvania
  91. Dharitri Bhattacharjee, University of South Sewanee
  92. Uma Chakravarti, Delhi
  93. Virginia Saldanha, Activist, Mumbai.
  94. Preetha Nair, Journalist, IANS, Delhi
  95. Kalpana Mehta, Indore
  96. Karthik Bittu, University of Hyderabad
  97. Nandini Rao, Activist, Delhi
  98. Urvashi Butalia, Publisher, Delhi
  99. Shewli Kumar, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  100. Nilanjana S Roy, Writer, Delhi
  101. Aarthi Pai, Lawyer, Bangalore
  102. Aruna Chandrasekhar, Amnesty India
  103. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Independent researcher and writer
  104. Nitya Vasudevan, Bangalore
  105. Sudipto Mondal, Journalist, Bangalore
  106. Neha Dixit, Independent Journalist, Delhi
  107. Priyanka Borpujari, Independent Journalist, Bombay/Guwahati
  108. Susie Tharu, Author, Hyderabad
  109. Sujata Gothoskar, Activist and Researcher, Bombay
  110. Sneha Rajaram, Bangalore
  111. Seema Krishna kumar, Communications Designer, Trivandrum
  112. Rochisha Narayan, YALE-NUS College, Singapore
  113. Aheli Moitra, Journalist, The Morung Express, Nagaland
  114. Anannya Bhattacharjee, Labour Unionist, National Capital Region
  115. Nivedita Menon, JNU, Delhi
  116. Anita Ghai, Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
  117. Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
  118. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori, Delhi
  119. Vidya Kulkarni, Independent Journalist, Pune
  120. Geetartha Pathak, Vice-President, Indian Journalists Union, Guwahati
  121. Dr. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Medical Officer and Writer, Pakur
  122. D W Karuna, Researcher, Chennai
  123. Ramlath Kavil, Photographer, Writer, Mumbai
  124. Supriya Madangarli, writer,  Mumbai
  125. Amrita Shodhan, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
  126. Geetanjali Gangoli, University of Bristol
  127. Jaideep Hardikar, Journalist, Nagpur
  128. Subir Ghosh, Journalist, Bangalore
  129. Anuradha Banerji, Ambedkar University, New Delhi
  130. Richa Minocha, Member Secretary, Jan AbhiyanSanstha, Shimla
  131. Saheli Women's Resource Centre, New Delhi
  132. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice
  133. Lalita Ramdas, Delhi
  134. WSS (Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression)
  135. Nihar Gokhale, Journalist, Delhi
  136. Shailesh Rai, Bangalore
  137. Sandhya Srinivasan, Journalist, Mumbai
  138. Pavan Dahat, Journalist, Raipur
  139. Jitendra Choubey, Journalist, Down to Earth
  140. Tara Chettur, Journalist, The Hitavada
  141. Joydeep Gupta, Editor, The Third Pole
  142. Rituparna Borah, Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, Delhi
  143. Ritambhara Mehta, Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, Delhi
  144. Anshu Jain, Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, Delhi
  145. Veena Poonacha, Academic, Mumbai
  146. Gabriele Dietrich, Madurai
  147. Jinee Lokaneeta, Academic, New Jersey
  148. Saswati Ghosh, City College (under Calcutta University),  Kolkata
  149. Sakina Bahora, Mumbai
  150. Neeraj Malik, Academic
  151. Ammu Abraham, Women’s Rights Activist, Mumbai
  152. Ritu Menon, Publisher, Women Unlimited, Delhi
  153. Ayesha Kidwai, Academic, Delhi
  154. Sarojini N
  155. Rama Vedula, Delhi
  156. Roshmi Goswami, Shillong
  157. Shubha Singh, Journalist, Delhi
  158. Anjali Monteiro, Filmmaker and Academic, Mumbai
  159. Simpreet Singh, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  160. Ashoke Chatterjee, Ahmedabad
  161. Suvojit Bagchi, journalist, Kolkata
  162. Anuradha Raman, journalist, The Hindu,  Delhi
  163. Ramneek Singh, playwright and theatre director, Bangalore
  164. Pracheta Sharma, Video Journalist, New Delhi
  165. Supriya Sharma, News Editor, Scroll.in  
  166. M Rajshekhar, Senior Reporter, Scroll.in

 

For any further information please contact any of the following:

Kamal Shukla: kamalkanker@gmail.com

ChitrangadaChoudhury: chitrangada.c@gmail.com/

Sevanti Ninan: sevanti_ninan@yahoo.co.in

Geeta Seshu : geetaseshu@gmail.com

 

 

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