Vendetta Feared in Arrest of Journalist in Chhattisgarh

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates and partners in the South Asia Media

Solidarity Network (SAMSN) express their deep concern at the arrest on

September 10 of journalist Lingaram Kodopi by police in the central Indian

state of Chhattisgarh.

 

Kodopi was picked up from his home

in a village in the southern district of Dantewada in the state and reportedly

charged with raising funds for the banned Maoist insurgent group. .

 

“The IFJ is worried that the special

security laws in force in Chhattisgarh state, which has for long been in the

grip of the insurgency, have been used to crack down on free and fair

reporting,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

Kodopi is one of the few journalists

from an indigenous community in Chhattisgarh. With his unique access to the

lives of a very substantial part of the state’s population, he has been seeking

to bring these most often unheard voices into the public discourse.

 

According to reports from SAMSN

partners in Chhattisgarh, Kodopi has had a history of victimisation at the

hands of the state police force. He was arrested on August 27, 2009 and only

released early in October of that year after his family filed a habeas corpus petition in the state high court.

 

In July 2010, he was named by the

Superintendent of Police in the southern district of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh

as the mastermind behind an attack on the residence of a local political

leader, in which one person was killed. He was at the time enrolled in a

journalism institute in a suburb of Delhi,

undergoing a year-long training program.

 

Kodopi was then named as the

potential successor to a top leadership position in the Maoist hierarchy after

the incumbent was killed a few days before in a supposed armed encounter with police

in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh . Several prominent civil rights

campaigners in Delhi

were named as Kodopi’s accomplices.

 

“We are very worried at the persistent

spirit of vendetta that police in Chhattisgarh seem to be displaying towards

Kodopi,” Park said.

 

“We call upon the police and the

Dantewada district administration to clarify the circumstances in which Kodopi

was arrested and the specific charges that have been laid against him. We urge

that the matter be quickly heard and decided by the relevant judicial

authorities on the merits of the evidence.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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