Renowned editors and activists join the campaign to free Journalists jailed in Chattisgargh

media- freedom-India

several well-known media personalities and civil rights activists, including Shekhar Gupta, Sevanti Nainan, Rajdeep Sardesai, Aruna Roy and Indira Jaising appeal to the authorities against the arrest and custodial torture of two Hindi language journalists – Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag – for their alleged involvement with the Maoists

Here is the the full text of the petition:
Appeal to Release Journalists Jailed in Chhattisgarh
A petition has been submitted to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Dr. Raman Singh, the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Minister of Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and the Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram by 160 journalists and members of civil society, asking for the release of two journalists in Chhattisgarh, jailed in July and September. It reads as follows:

“We, the undersigned journalists and members of civil society, are deeply concerned about the reports of the arrest and custodial torture of two Hindi language journalists SantoshYadav and Somaru Nag, in September and July this year, from the Darbha block of Southern Bastar in Chhattisgarh, on the charge of supporting Maoists.

Santosh Yadav, was arrested by police on September 29 2015 and Somaru Nag, an Adivasi journalist, was arrested on July 16 2015. Yadav used to report for multiple Hindi newspapers including Dainik Navbharat and Dainik Chhattisgarh. Nag was a stringer-cum-news agent with Rajasthan Patrika.

While Nag has been charged under the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, Yadav has been charged under the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act (CPSA). There is no clarity as to the charges against them, or the evidence which the police hold about their alleged involvement with Maoists.

According to these reports (Arrested, tortured and Jailed in South Bastar and Truth has two versions in Bastar), Yadav’s name was added to a case where 18 villagers were arrested and charged with an encounter, which took place on 21st August during a road-opening operation by the security forces in which a Special Police Officer was killed. Nag was charged with keeping a look out on the movements of the police, while a group burnt a crusher plant employed in road construction in Chote Kadma on 26th June.

Local lawyers and members of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties said that police had been harassing Santosh Yadav for several months now, ever since he began reporting on the conflict between the police and the Maoists. While the police personnel state that he had links with the Maoists, civil liberties activists allege that the police was pressurizing Yadav to become an informer for them.

The arrests have only brought to the fore the extremely precarious condition of journalists reporting from these conflict areas, in particular journalists who live and work in rural areas. They face a Hobson’s choice, and their reportage as well as their independence and their very safety, is severely compromised. In this situation, police arrests end up intimidating and silencing all independent voices.

Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav’s arrests have contributed to a deep sense of insecurity amongst journalists in the state and a fear that, not just their work, but their own lives, will be in danger if they venture out to do any independent investigation, or stories that are critical of either the security forces or the Maoists

Either way, they face a threat, and these arrests suggest that journalists cannot expect any protection under the law from police and security forces.

In order to protect their right to work and report freely, the local journalists have formed a Patrakaar Suraksha Kanoon Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti (United Struggle Body for the Security of Journalists). This body has demanded

1. that Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav be immediately released;
2. that the state create conditions for reporters to work and travel freely, and without fear or harassment;
3. that the practice of fake arrests stop and that the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act be repealed or not used against reporters;
4. And finally, an investigation into the methods adopted by senior police official S.R.P.Kalluri, who has created an atmosphere of terror in the Bastar region, especially against the media.

The full petition is attached.

The signatories so far:

1. Mrinal Pande, Chairperson, The Media Foundation, Delhi
2. Ravish Kumar, Senior Executive Editor, NDTV, Delhi
3. Shekhar Gupta, Television Anchor and Columnist, Delhi
4. Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
5. Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor-in-Chief, The Wire, Delhi
6. Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor, India Today Group, New Delhi
7. Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate Supreme Court, Trustee Lawyers
Collective, Delhi
8. Sagarika Ghose, Consulting Editor, Times of India, New Delhi
9. Vipul Mudgal, Common Cause & Foundation for Media Professionals
10. Dileep Padgaonkar, former editor, Times of India, Pune
11. Shoma Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Catch News, Delhi
12. Nitin Desai, Economist and Columnist
13. Bharat Bhushan, Editor, Catch News, Delhi
14. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Senior Journalist, Delhi
15. Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist, Delhi
16. Harsh Mander, Social Worker and Writer, Delhi
17. Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, Mumbai
18. Kalpana Sharma, Journalist, Mumbai
19. Seema Mustafa, The Citizen, Delhi
20. Raman Kirpal, Editor, DNA
21. Siddharth Dube, Contributing Editor, Caravan Magazine
22. Subir Bhaumik, Former BBC Correspondent, Kolkata
23. Mannika Chopra, Managing Editor, Social Change, New Delhi
24. Sevanti Ninan,, Delhi
25. Dr. Shujaat Bukhari, Editor-in-Chief, Rising Kashmir, Srinagar
26. Sujata Madhok, Delhi Union of Journalists
27. M J Pandey, Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists
28. Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
29. Ammu Joseph, Senior Journalist, Bengaluru
30. Shubhranshu Choudhary, CGNetSwara, Raipur
31. Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, Mumbai
32. Nupur Basu, Filmmaker and Journalist, Bengaluru
33. Ashis Kothari, Pune
34. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre
35. Madhusree Mukherjee, Writer, Germany
36. Ravi Rebbapragada, Editor, Dhimsa
37. Chitrangada Choudhury, Journalist & Researcher, Bhubaneshwar
38. Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
39. Pushpa Achanta, Journalist, Bengaluru
40. ManishaSethi, Academic, Delhi
41. Arudra Burra, IIT, Delhi
42. Kamayani Bal Mahabal, Independent Journalist, Mumbai
43. Rohit Chopra, Professor, Santa Clara University
44. Kaveri Gill, Independent Researcher
45. IshanTankha, Photographer, Delhi
46. Rahul Basu, Goa
47. Aniket Aga, Yale University
48. Manoj Gopalkrishnan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
49. Kiran Shaheen, Independent Journalist, Delhi
50. Pushpendra, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
51. Aritra Bhattacharya, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
52. Arunima Kaushik, Mumbai University
53. Stan Swamy, Ranchi
54. Linda Chhakchhuak, Grassroots Options, Shillong
55. Revati Laul, Independent Journalist, Ahmedabad
56. Karen Dias, Photographer, Mumbai
57. Rajashri Dasgupta, Independent Journalist, Kolkata
58. Javed Iqbal, Journalist and Photographer, Mumbai
59. Paroma Mukherjee, Photographer, Delhi
60. Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad
61. Vani Rupela, Speech Pathologist, Fairfax
62. Nilanjana Bhowmick, Independent Journalist, Delhi
63. Arti Jaiman, Station Director, Gurgaon ki Awaaz
64. Smita Nair, Journalist, Mumbai
65. Akhileshwari, Journalist
66. Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai
67. Dilip D’Souza, Writer, Mumbai
68. Shahina KK, Assistant Editor,OPEN
69. Sudhir Pattnaik, Editor, Bhubaneswar
70. Raksha Kumar, Journalist, Bangalore
71. Aditya Sinha, Journalist
72. Dilnaz Boga, Journalist, Mumbai
73. Rohini Mohan, Journalist, Bangalore
74. Laxmi Murthy, Consulting Editor, Himal Southasian, Bangalore
75. Soumyadipta Banerjee, Journalist, Mumbai
76. Sumi Krishna, Writer, Bangalore
77. Freny Manecksha, Journalist, Mumbai
78. Noor Enayat, Brand Consultant, Delhi
79. Sobhi Mohanty, Government Consultant, Bhubaneshwar
80. Ananya Vajpeyi, Professor, Delhi
81. SibiArasu, Independent Journalist, Chennai
82. Govind Krishnan, Fountain Ink, Bangalore
83. Latika Padgaonkar, Pune
84. Nikita Sud, Associate Professor, Oxford University
85. N P Chekutty, Editor, Thejas Daily, Calicut
86. Kartikeya Date, Academician, Haifa
87. Ruchi Sharma. Freelance Journalist, New York, USA
88. Anuradha Nagaraj, Journalist, Chennai
89. Priyanshu Gupta, IIM Kolkata
90. Suvir Kaul, University of Pennsylvania
91. Dharitri Bhattacharjee, University of South Sewanee
92. Uma Chakravarti, Delhi
93. Virginia Saldanha, Activist, Mumbai.
94. Preetha Nair, Journalist, IANS, Delhi
95. Kalpana Mehta, Indore
96. KarthikBittu, University of Hyderabad
97. Nandini Rao, Activist, Delhi
98. Urvashi Butalia, Publisher, Delhi
99. Shewli Kumar, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
100. Nilanjana S Roy, Writer, Delhi
101. Aarthi Pai, Lawyer, Bangalore
102. Aruna Chandrasekhar, Amnesty India
103. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Independent researcher and writer
104. Nitya Vasudevan, Bangalore
105. Sudipto Mondal, Journalist, Bangalore
106. Neha Dixit, Independent Journalist, Delhi
107. Priyanka Borpujari, Independent Journalist, Bombay/Guwahati
108. Susie Tharu, Author, Hyderabad
109. Sujata Gothoskar, Activist and Researcher, Bombay
110. Sneha Rajaram, Bangalore
111. Seema Krishnakumar, Communications Designer, Trivandrum
112. Rochisha Narayan, YALE-NUS College, Singapore
113. Aheli Moitra, Journalist, The Morung Express, Nagaland
114. Anannya Bhattacharjee, Labour Unionist, National Capital Region
115. Nivedita Menon, JNU, Delhi
116. Anita Ghai, Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
117. Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
118. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori, Delhi
119. Vidya Kulkarni, Independent Journalist, Pune
120. Geetartha Pathak, Vice-President, Indian Journalists Union, Guwahati
121. Dr. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Medical Officer and Writer, Pakur
122. D W Karuna, Researcher, Chennai
123. Ramlath Kavil, Photographer, Writer, Mumbai
124. Supriya Madangarli, writer, Mumbai
125. Amrita Shodhan, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
126. Geetanjali Gangoli, University of Bristol
127. JaideepHardikar, Journalist, Nagpur
128. Subir Ghosh, Journalist, Bangalore
129. Anuradha Banerji, Ambedkar University, New Delhi
130. Richa Minocha, Member Secretary, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Shimla
131. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi
132. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice
133. Lalita Ramdas, Delhi
134. WSS (Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression)
135. Nihar Gokhale, Journalist, Delhi
136. Shailesh Rai, Bangalore
137. Sandhya Srinivasan, Journalist, Mumbai
138. Pavan Dahat, Journalist, Raipur
139. Jitendra Choubey, Journalist, Down to Earth
140. Tara Chettur, Journalist, The Hitavada
141. Joydeep Gupta, Editor, The Third Pole
142. Rituparna Borah, Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, Delhi
143. Ritambhara Mehta, Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, Delhi
144. Anshu Jain, Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, Delhi
145. Veena Poonacha, Academic, Mumbai
146. Gabriele Dietrich, Madurai
147. Jinee Lokaneeta, Academic, New Jersey
148. Saswati Ghosh, City College (under Calcutta University), Kolkata
149. Sakina Bahora, Mumbai
150. Neeraj Malik, Academic
151. Ammu Abraham, Women’s Rights Activist, Mumbai
152. Ritu Menon, Publisher, Women Unlimited, Delhi
153. Ayesha Kidwai, Academic, Delhi
154. Sarojini N
155. Rama Vedula, Delhi
156. Roshmi Goswami, Shillong
157. Shubha Singh, Journalist, Delhi
158. Anjali Monteiro, Filmmaker and Academic, Mumbai
159. Simpreet Singh, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
160. Ashoke Chatterjee, Ahmedabad
161. Suvojit Bagchi, journalist, Kolkata

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