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
“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”.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
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