Malini Subramaniam, a journalist associated with the news website scroll.In was threatened by a gang of 20 men at her residence in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh on February 7. Here is the full text of the statement issued by the Network of Women in Media, India condemning the attack on Subramaniam
We, members of the Network of Women in Media, India, strongly condemn the shocking attack on the residence of Malini Subramaniam, a journalist based in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh and correspondent for the news site Scroll.In. The continuous attempts to intimidate and threaten her into silence must immediately stop and those responsible must be brought to book.
According to reports in the news site, Scroll.In, a group of around 20 persons had come to her residence at about 6p.m. on February 7, and shouted slogans attacking her, including ‘Naxali Samarthak Bastar Chodo. Malini Subramaniam Murdabad’ (Naxal supporter, leave Bastar. Death to Malini Subramaniam). The mob apparently tried to instigate neighbours to attack her and alleged that she was a Naxal supporter. Early on February 8, morning, at around 2.30a.m., a motorcycle slowed down outside and stones were thrown at her residence, damaging her car.
Ms Subramaniam has identified two of the men in the mob – Manish Parakh and Sampat Jha. Both of these men who accosted her at her residence on January 10 were members of the Samajik Ekta Manch, a Jagdalpur-based forum formed to counter Naxalism in Bastar and support the work of the police in the area. Parakh is the secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Yuva Morcha and Sampat Jha is a member of the Congress in Jagdalpur.
The online news site, Scroll.In, has documented the level of intimidation faced by Ms Subramaniam and has pointed out that, over the last year, she has been writing consistently on issues of adivasis and displacement, mass sexual violence as well as other human rights violations. It is these reports that the Manch appears to have targeted as being ‘pro-Naxal’ and anti-police. Subsequent to the Jan 10 ‘visit’ by members of this Manch, Ms Subramaniam also received late night enquiries from the local police and had to face a number of questions and submit documents giving proof of her identity. The news site had tried to take up the instances of intimidation with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh but received no response.
It is clear that the local police, which is tasked with protecting its citizens, has chosen to look the other way while the mob demonstrated outside her residence. At the time of this writing, the police had not filed a First Information Report (FIR), nor initiated any investigation into the incident, much less ensured the safety and protection of Ms Subramaniam and her daughter
Already, journalists across the country have lodged strong protests over the arrest and continued incarceration of two journalists from Chhattisgarh, Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag. Now, in this incident, the indifference of the police and the state administration as well as the Chief Minister is a dangerous portent for freedom of expression and for the safety and security of media persons in particular and citizens in general.
We demand that an FIR is immediately filed; Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh immediately announce a full and thorough investigation into the incident and take steps to ensure the safety of Ms Subramaniam. His failure to do so can only be taken as an indication of his tacit support for such heinous and coercive tactics.
Network of Women in Media, India