News

January 6, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Threats, false accusations and arrests


Intimidation and pressure plague reporters in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka states

Reporters Without Borders today called on the authorities in New Delhi to provide better guarantees of safety for journalists working in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, where they are caught between clashes pitting security forces, pro-government militia and Maoists. It would be extremely unfortunate, as well as contrary to the Constitution of the Indian Union, that there should be two quite different standards of press freedom in the country. Journalists in conflict zones, including Chhattisgarh and Kashmir, no longer get the same guarantees and protection as their colleagues in New Delhi or Mumbai, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. Three journalists in Chhattisgarh state, N.R.K. Pillai, Anil Mishra, and Yashwant Yadav, on 11 December received threatening letters from a pro-government militia known as Maa Danteshwari Swabhimani Adivasi Manch. These letters accused them of supporting Maoists and threatening them with a “dog’s death” if they did not leave the Dantewada district in the southeast of Chhattisgarh state. This militia is apparently hiding behind police support to intimidate journalists and human rights activists. This collusion is demonstrated by the fact that the local police refused to open an investigation into who wrote these letters. The authorities in New Delhi have chosen to remain silent on the matter. Several journalists, including citizen journalists Mangal Kunjam and Bhan Sahu, condemned the threats on the discussion forum CGnet Swara (www.cgnetswara.org), Community Radio on mobile phone. They were then threatened by police who told them to “behave” in future or “be ready for consequences”. Other journalists who intended to follow the example of their colleagues, decided to back down for fear of reprisals.

False accusation made against a journalist

Elsewhere, Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns a charge brought against K.K. Shahina, a reporter on the famous magazine Tehelka, by police in Karnataka state in the southeast of India, after she made sensational revelations about police abuses during an investigation into a Muslim priest. K.K. Shahina published interviews with key witnesses in the 4 December 2010 issue of Tehelka revealing that police changed and interpreted their statements. She has been accused of “intimidating witnesses”.

Arrests of journalists, government manipulation?

Reporters Without Borders also calls on the authorities to clarify the circumstances of the arrests of two journalists, Ahongsangbam Mobi and Sudhir Dhawle, respectively arrested on 29 December 2010 and 2 January 2011. Freelance journalist Sudhir Dhawle, and editor of the critical monthly Vidrohi, was arrested on 2 January in Wardha district in Maharashtra state, in eastern India, on his way back from a literary conference. He was accused of having met with Maoists. Ahongsangbam Mobi, editor of the daily Sanaleibak, based in Imphal, capital of Manipur state in north-eastern India, was arrested by local police on 29 December 2010, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for having contacted the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), a political group banned by the government. According to an organisation for the protection of journalists, the All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU), of which Ahongsangbam Mobi is the vice-president and spokesman, the editor was drawn into a trap. Local police had set up the meeting, pretending to be a member of the KCP wanting to talk about issues of the protection of journalists and used this to arrest him.