IFJ Condemns Death Threats against Journalists in India's Chhattisgarh State

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked at the

explicit death threats made to three journalists based in the southern district

of Dantewada in India's Chhattisgarh state, by a vigilante group believed to be

part of a covert operation to combat a long-running Maoist insurgency.

IFJ sources report that an unsigned letter issued in the name of the

Adivasi Swabhimaani Manch (which loosely translates as "Forum for Advancement

of the Indigenous Communities") was circulated on December 11, which sharply

attacks the Maoist insurgents for the havoc they have caused to civic life in

Chhattisgarh. The letter warmly commends a police official who took charge in

the district of Dantewada some months back for the firmness of his resolve in

combating the Maoists. It then proceeds to identify three local journalists by

name and warn them that they cannot live for long "under the garb of human

rights" and would meet a "dog's death" if they did not leave the region.

The journalists mentioned are N.R.K. Pillay, vice-president of the

state-wide union of working journalists, the Chhattisgarh Shramjeevi Patrakar

Sangh (CSPS), Anil Mishra, former district correspondent of the Hindi language

daily Nai Duniya, and Yashwant Yadav of Deshbandhu, a widely-read

and respected Hindi daily in the state.

Initial complaints by the targeted journalists with local police

officials were reportedly met with indifference. On December 12, an audio

report on the death threats issued against the three journalists was posted by

the web-based citizen journalism portal, CGNet Swara. Mangal Kunjam, the

young reporter who phoned in with the story to the news portal, was reportedly

called into the Kirandul police station in Dantewada district subsequenly and

warned of serious consequences.

The IFJ learns that the CSPS has taken up this matter with the local

authorities and also sent a delegation to the state government to make a case

for serious investigations into the death threat.

"We call for an explicit condemnation of this threat to press freedom and

the safety of journalists by civil and police officials at the local and state

level", said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

"We see these recent events as a part of a broader attack on civil

liberties in Chhattisgarh state and a symptom of growing intolerance towards

civil society actors and human rights defenders."

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


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