International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply disturbed over the implications
of a security operation in the Indian state of West Bengal,
in which the leader of a political group reportedly aligned with the banned
Maoist party was arrested by police masquerading as journalists.
to IFJ sources, Chhatradhar Mahato was arrested on September 26 by police
personnel who set up an interview with him posing as journalists.
established a body under the title “People’s Committee against Police
Atrocities” in the town of Lalgarh
in Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal last November.
been in hiding in Lalgarh and has evaded repeated search operations by state
police. He has however been available to media personnel, who have typically
faced no hazards in meeting and interviewing him.
reports from India suggest
that the West Bengal state police have for
some time been tracking the telephone calls of some journalists who have had
access to Mahato.
operation to seize him reportedly began two months ago, when police pretending
to be reporters for a Singapore-based news channel contacted Mahato asking for
It is reported
that two such “interviews” were conducted and the police posing as media workers
had since been in touch with Mahato by phone. The arrest was effected by armed
police as Mahato presented himself for a purported media interview.
police operation in West Bengal compromises
the status of journalists and spreads a pall of suspicion over the profession,”
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline
everywhere enjoy the right to meet and interview individual news-makers. This
is a principle that is grounded in the public’s right to know and applies even
when the individual concerned is a person wanted under the law.
is concerned that this incident in West Bengal will seriously impede the
freedom that journalists in India
enjoy to access breaking news stories and to meet and interview all parties in
any evolving situation.
strongly condemn the surveillance operations that the police carried out on
journalists who had met and interviewed Mahato.”
Arrested in Orissa for Alleged Maoist Links
also expresses concern over the arrest of Laxman Choudhary, a journalist for
the daily Sambad in the eastern state of Orissa, ostensibly on charges
of “waging war against the state”.
followed the discovery of a parcel containing Maoist literature addressed to
Choudhary. Media reports indicate that Choudhary was a popular figure in his
home district of Gajapati in Orissa and had acquired a reputation for exposing police
“The IFJ welcomes the stand taken by
journalists’ unions in Orissa and expresses its appreciation of a statement by
the chief minister of the state that Choudhary’s arrest violates basic
democratic freedoms,” Ms Park said.
upon authorities in Orissa to unconditionally release Choudhary and ensure that
he is not subject to any further harassment or intimidation.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries