South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Freedom of expression is being “throttled” in Chhattisgarh due to “relentless crackdown by police and vigilante groups,” global human rights body Amnesty International said here on Monday as it slammed arrests of journalists and other civil society people including activists on “trumped-up” charges.

Releasing a document “Blackout In Bastar,” claiming it to be an account of arrested and attacked journalists, activists and lawyers, Amnesty International, India, alleged that human rights violations in the state are being backed by the police.

“Chhattisgarh authorities have stood by and watched as their critics are intimidated and attacked by groups which seem to enjoy police support,” said Aakar Patel, executive director, Amnesty International India.

“Freedom of expression is being throttled in Chhattisgarh as the state cracks on media and civil society. Over the last six months, they have faced relentless crackdown by the police and self-styled vigilante groups, leading to information blackout in the state,” he added.

Welcoming the report by a fact-finding team of Editors Guild of India, which said there is a sense of fear among scribes in Bastar, Amnesty said, it will back the Guild’s fight against “human rights violations” in the state.

Kamal Shukla, editor of Bhumkal Samachar, a Bastar-based newspaper, alleged that inspector general of police in Bastar, Shiv Ram Prasad Kalluri “has made a list of journalists who are not nationalists” and is getting them arrested.

“We are being constantly threatened to either to leave Bastar or leave journalism. Even reporting about corruption, rapes and questioning fake encounters has become Naxalism in Bastar,” he said.

At a press conference held at the Press Club of India here, human rights activists Bela Bhatia was one of the people who had gathered to narrate their tales of being threatened for working in the state and being labelled as “Maoists” on Monday.

Amnesty also raised concerns about alleged illegal arrests and killings of adivasis, overcrowding in jails and fake surrenders. It also asked the government to repeal the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and called for prompt and impartial investigation into the matter.

Updated On:  Apr 19, 2016