Jharkhand Journalist Association decries scribe’s arrest for questioning authorities

Journalist Basant Sahu was arrested for asking the deputy commissioner about Covid-19 cases in a village in Jharkhand and circulating his response on social media

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The Jharkhand Journalist Association (JJA) observed a black-badge protest on Tuesday and along with other media organisations demanding arrested journalist Basant Sahu’s immediate release, reported The Telegraph. The organization is also set to take the matter to the Press Council and the Human Rights Commission.

Basant Sahu, a reporter with a vernacular daily, was allegedly arrested for asking Seraikela-Kharsawan deputy commissioner A. Dodde about the first Covid-19 case in the district, and then circulating the DC’s purported denial on news channels and social media.

Sahu wanted Dodde to confirm whether there was Covid-19 case in Ichagarh, but the DC shut him down, denied the news and asked Sahu to go to bed. However, Sahu recorded the conversation and circulated it on social media thus earning Dodde’s ire. After the incident, Sahu was arrested and sent to Saraikela divisional jail.

In the matter, the journalists observing the protest met with Deputy Inspector General Rajiv Ranjan Singh at Circuit House and handed him a memo demanding that Sahu be released. Founder of the JJA Shahnawaz Khan, who was addressing the members of the media at the Seraikela Circuit House, stated that the current attitude of the Hemant Soren government was a flashback to the emergency period when journalists were put behind bars for reporting the truth, the Avenue Mail reported.

Decrying the uncalled for action by the Deputy Commissioner, JJA’s secretary Bhagya Sagar Singh said, “It is of prime importance for the state that the fourth pillar be allowed to function independently as only then can the government be made aware of the people’s problems. But in the case of Basant Sahu, it is a reverse commentary for all journalists as they put in all the sweat and toil especially during this pandemic period to bring out news and the irony of it all is that it results in jail terms.”

Many of the JJA’s members were of the opinion that Sahu didn’t deserve to be treated like a criminal for questioning the government. They also expressed their displeasure in the new state government saying that “journalists expected a revival of expressing news with freedom but these expectations were belied and the suppressive attitude of the government officials continued unabated”.


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