Journalist and Broadcasting Pioneer Threatened by Maoists in India

 

Media Release: India                                                                                        

June 13, 2013                   

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

expresses its strong condemnation of a statement issued by the supposed command

centre of the Maoist insurgency in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, which directly

targets Shubhranshu Choudhary, a widely respected journalist and pioneer in

using new technologies to broaden public access to the media sphere.

 

Choudhary had filed a story on May 27 for the Hindi

service of the BBC, suggesting that a lethal attack two days before, on a

political convoy returning to the state capital of Raipur from a public

engagement in the southern district of Dantewada, was the outcome of a leadership

change and factional rivalry within the Maoist insurgency.

 

An estimated thirty-one people, including civilian

bystanders, were killed in the bomb attack on the convoy, which was followed by

a pitched gun-battle. Those killed on the spot included senior Congress leaders

from Chhattisgarh who had travelled to Dantewada to launch the party’s campaign

for general elections to the state assembly, due before the end of the year.

 

V.C. Shukla, among the most senior Congress party leaders

from Chhattisgarh, who was Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the

Indian Union Cabinet in the mid-1970s and remembered for imposing a regime of

censorship on the press during a national period of “emergency”, died of

injuries sustained in the attack on June 11.

 

Choudhary’s analysis of the calculations behind this

attack attracted a seeming rebuke and a disguised threat from the “Special

Zonal Committee” of the Maoist insurgency in the region, which in a statement

issued on June 5, accused him “knowingly or unknowingly”, of becoming part of

“the conspiracy” of the “ruling class” against the “party and the poor people

of the country".

 

Chowdhary is alleged to have written “half truths”

that have “maligned” the Maoist image.

 

The IFJ Asia-Pacific has found from its experience in

South Asia and elsewhere, that this pattern of suggesting irreparable damage to

the image of an insurgent unit, is often the prelude to more explicit threats

and physical violence.

 

“We call for a public condemnation of this Maoist edict

against a widely respected journalist from Chhattisgarh”, said the IFJ

Asia-Pacific.

 

“We recognise Chowdhary as a serious contributor to

press freedom campaigns in India. Aside from his journalistic work, he has been

instrumental in setting up CGNet Swara, a mobile phone based citizen journalism

facility in Chhattisgarh that has earned worldwide attention for bringing otherwise

excluded voices in to the public sphere”.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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