IFJ Condemns Mumbai Journalist’s Arrest Under Official Secrets Act

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the arrest of Tarakant Dwivedi, alias Akela, under India’s

Official Secrets Act, after he reported on poor security conditions in the

Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus (CST) in India’s western metropolis of



CST, which is a hub of both suburban

and long-distance railway traffic, was among the first targets to be hit in the

terrorist attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. More than a third of the 164

people killed during the three day-long siege of Mumbai perished at this



Soon afterwards, the Government Railway

Police (GRP), which is tasked with maintaining security at all major facilities

of the Indian Railways, procured an array of sophisticated weaponry to deal

with future contingencies involving terrorist attacks.


On June 28, 2010, the daily Mumbai

Mirror newspaper published a report under Akela’s byline, headlined “Leaks

in CST armoury put new anti-terror arms under threat”. The report documented

how newly procured equipment was being stored in a room with a leaky roof,

making their efficacy in an emergency situation highly questionable.


In October, the GRP reportedly filed

a case against Akela on charges of trespass. On May 17, a contingent of the GRP

arrived at the office of the afternoon daily Mid-day, where Akela now

works. He was taken away to the GRP office, ostensibly to record his statement,

but placed under arrest later that night. The next morning, when he was due to

be produced before the local magistrate, the GRP pleaded its inability to do so

owing to the required paperwork not being completed.


Mumbai’s journalists, led by the

Brihan-Mumbai Union of Journalists and the Marathi Patrakar Sangh, have

strongly protested the arbitrary arrest of a reporter who was clearly working

towards bringing vital information to public notice.


On Thursday, a number of Mumbai’s

senior journalists went to meet the Home Minister in the state government of Maharashtra to demand that the case against Akela be

withdrawn. A demonstration involving several hundred journalists later marched

from the local union office to the administrative headquarters of the state



“We extend our solidarity to Akela

and all Mumbai’s journalists in their struggle against this gross violation of

media freedom and the public’s right to be informed of matters concerning their

personal safety,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.


“The IFJ believes that in areas of

heightened security concerns, efforts by official agencies to restrict the flow

of information does little for the cause of public reassurance.”


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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