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.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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