Police Must Respect Rights of Journalists in Chattisgarh State

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully supports the union of

working journalists in the central Indian state of Chattisgarh in its effort to

uphold media rights when these are under increasing pressure as security forces

escalate operations against  a

long-running Maoist insurgency.

 

According

to IFJ sources, three journalists in the state were recently issued notices by

police in, ordering them to reveal the sources of reports either published or

broadcast.

 

Two

journalists working for widely circulated Hindi-language dailies – Anil Mishra

of Nai Duniya and Yashwant Yadav of Navbharat – were asked to

reveal their sources by police in the district of Dantewada, for a report

suggesting that innocent villagers were killed in an anti-insurgency operation

by security forces in a remote southern part of the state.

 

In a

separate case, Rakesh Shukla, of E-TV news channel, was asked to present

himself before the local police in Kanker district, for broadcasting a Maoist

claim of responsibility for the murder of a local political figure.

 

A senior

police officer in the state was also reported to have sanctioned aggressive

measures, including firing at journalists who cross into Chattisgarh from

neighbouring districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh to report on

anti-insurgency operations.

 

The local

journalists’ union, the Chattisgarh Shramjeevi Patrakar Sangh (CSPS), held a

meeting on October 12 to discuss the threats. It resolved to undertake a major

campaign to generate public awareness on media freedom issues in a situation of

sharpening conflict.

 

“The IFJ

reminds authorities in Chattisgarh that the public has a right to be informed

about events occurring in the state, particularly in the context of the recent

escalation of anti-insurgency operations and the heightened level of political

rhetoric on the threat posed by the Maoist insurgency to national security,”

IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

Human

rights concerns have been raised in the past in the context of anti-insurgency

operations in the state. The IFJ has previously cautioned authorities against

the tendency to view independent journalism as an enemy activity that lends

comfort to insurgent groups.

 

“To ensure

the maximum public awareness and endorsement of their security operations,

authorities in Chattisgarh need to distance themselves from this mindset,” Park

said.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries