Taking note of growing incidences of harassment and intimidation of journalists in central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) condemned state authority and asked it to take immediate steps to stop such incidences.
FORUM-ASIA is a Bangkok-based regional human rights group with 58 member organizations in 19 countries across Asia. It addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expressions, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratization.
The statement issued by FORUM-ASIA on Tuesday listed various incidences of intimidation of journalists by state and non-state actors on accusations of supporting armed Maoist insurgents and said that Chhattisgarh authorities lack any serious intent to protect journalists or to facilitate their very important work
Condemning the attack on the house of a journalist Malini Subramaniam on February 8, 2016 by unknown assailants and police’s initially refusal to register FIR, the FORUM-ASIA said, “This was in direct contravention of the law, and a violation of the journalist’s rights, as no special permission is needed to file a First Information Report (FIR).”
It also denounced arresting of two other journalists – Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav – from the region last year on charges of being a ‘Maoist sympathizer’; and allegedly collaborating with a group of villagers to vandalize equipment used to build roads.
It further observed that the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act under which these journalists are arrested violate international human rights standards.
Giving reference of a South Asian media watchdog group The Hoot FORUM-ASIA also alleged that both these journalists have been tortured in detention.
Highlighting all these incidences of Human rights violation, FORUM-ASIA said, “In a state facing serious human rights challenges, it is imperative that the state protect those who bring important information to the public arena”.
Updated On: 18 February 2016