Police pick up one more journalist in Bastar, Repression Continues

Prabhat Singh, a fearless and independent local journalist from Dantewada has been picked up by the police last evening. According to media reports, Prabhat Singh was picked up by police on Monday at around 5 PM and hours later the reports of his arrest went viral on social media. However, Dantewada Police has ruled out their role in Prabhat's arrest and hinted Jagdalpur police connection in the case. Pavan Dahat of The Hindu told Sabrangindia that Superintendant of Police (SP) Dantewada, Kamlochan Kashyap who said that the Jagdalpur police had detained Prabhat Singh for some 'IT act related'. Later, SP, Bastar RN told Mr Dahat that "questioning" was of Prabhat Singh was afoot. ​

Prabhat Singh has been writing consistently on the allegations of atrocities by IG Kalluri in the Dantewada district. As an active, local journalist, Prabhat Singh accompanie indepdent Adivasi adcitivists and community workers into villages like Rewali and Nahadi. He also indepdently recorded the details of extra-judicial killings made against the police. Prabhat Singh was also active in organising journalists in support of the Patrakar Suraksha Kanoon, In short, Prabhat Singh has played a vital role in ensuring some space for independent reporting from this conflict-torn area. He had been with Patrika for some time, and had recently started working with E-TV. Reportedly, E-TV summarily terminated his services just a day before his arrest. Here is a copy of the termination letter. Sources told Sabrangindia that the development came days after ETV bureau head of Chhattisgarh Ms Priyanka Kaushal's helicopter trip to Sukma with Mr.SRP Kalluri. Apparently, the ETV bureau head was told clearly to remove Prabhat.

There have been a string of all out attempts to suppress independent media reportage in the Bastar region over past months. Within a time span of 12 months, after Somaru Nag, Santosh Yadav ( Patrika), Malini Subramaniam (Scroll.in), Alok Putul (BBC), Prabhat (Patrika, ex-ETV news correspondent) was the fifth journalist on record who was in hit list of police for raising the real issues of atrocities carried out by security forces.Several National Media journalists including Hindu correspondent also complained that they were threatened for carrying out reports on Bastar.

Pavan Dahat, correspondent of The Hindu in Chhattisgarh and eastern Maharashtra told Sabrangindia, "I was on leave and returned to find these developments afoot. Prabhat has been a close associate of mine. Our information is that Prabhat has been implicated in a case related to cyber law. The police have not said anything on record but when asked about his arrest Dantewada SP Kamlochan Kashyap told local contacts that he has been arrested by the Jagdalpur police i.e Bastar district police. Prabhat Singh's wife and two children are being brought to Jagdalpur. Prabhat Singh is a native of Barsoor, a town eight kilometres from Dantewada."

The immediate concern is to  get immediate legal aid. Two lawyers are reportedly travelling from Bilaspur are travelling from Bilaspur to Jagdalpur today. Pavan Dahat further said, "The cyber case against Prabhat Singh him is new, but he has already been slapped with two previous cases. Both the cases were slapped on him after Mr.SRP Kalluri had openly told him at a press conference in Dantewada that he had "Kundali of Prabhat" and he should mend his ways. There are two more journalists from Bastar Tameshwar Sinha and Kamal Shukla who could also be targeted in the near future. Both of them were active in anti-police protest after the arrest of Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag. The way the Bastar police head  is going, the time is not far when people like me from The Hindu, The Indian Express, Times of India and other national dailies would face the heat."

National and local journalists, especially Kamal Shukla have already swung into action and a protest march is being planned. Pavan Dhat further said that "There are senior police officers in Chhattisgarh, who are furious over what is happening but are sitting silently because the ruling dispensation has turned a blind eye towards Bastar. A single person can not be allowed to act as a dictator in a democracy. I urge every pro-democracy voice to come forward to help Prabhat Singh. Prabhat Singh has been a close associate and friend of mine. He was only doing his job, which is impartial reporting from Bastar and his biggest crime was to provide a voice to the exploited masses."

The State President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Lakhan Singh condemned the action taken by police and said, police cannot miff the voice of fourth estate by carrying out brutalities or framing them into false cases. Leader of Opposition TS Baba said, threatening journalists or terrorising them is very unfortunate. We will raise the issue in Assembly during budget session, he added.
1.  Police pick up one more journalist in Bastar
2. Chhatisgarh Repression Continues: Dr Saibal Jana arrested in 24 year old cas
3. Soni Sori was on the verge of filing an FIR against IG Kalluri when she was attacked
4. NHRC intervenes as BJP govt. hounds defenders of adivasis' rights in Bastar
5. Where every human rights activist is labelled a Maoist: Chhatisgarh
6. Adivasis not Naxalites are the target of the government: Soni Sori
7. Has India betrayed its indigenous peoples, the Adivasis?
8. न नक्सल, न पुलिस, हम जनता के साथ हैं: सोनी सोरी  



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