Last month, a group calling itself the “Maa Danteshwari Swabhimani Adivasi Manch” circulated a pamphlet in Dantewada district, threatening to kill anyone perceived to be a supporter of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The pamphlet accused Dantewada’s oldest journalist N.R.K. Pillai, Anil Mishra, Chhattisgarh Correspondent for Tehelka, and Yashwant Yadav, District Secretary of the Chhattisgarh Working Journalists’ Union, of working for the Maoists and threatened them with dire circumstances.
The pamphlet also praised the efforts of the Dantewada Senior Superintendent of Police, S.R.P. Kalluri, describing him as an officer who has “destroyed the daily rest and nightly sleep of the Maoists.”
The journalists believe that the local administration and police are using the armed conflict between paramilitary forces and CPI (Maoist) rebels as an excuse for targeting reporters who have highlighted police atrocities and are critical of the local administration.
“The ‘Ma Danteswari Manch’ is a front organisation floated and supported by the district police,” said Mr. Mishra. “It has been used in the past to intimidate social activists like Medha Patkar, and is now being used to threaten the press. Members of the Manch were also responsible for the attack on a peaceful anti-government rally in Dantewada in January this year.”
In October 2009, Mr. Mishra and Mr. Yadav were served with police notices, ordering them to reveal their sources, when they published stories alleging that security forces had killed and maimed innocent villagers in a routine search operation. In January this year, they were repeatedly detained at police check-posts while working on a follow-up story. In October, the International Federation of Journalists noted that “journalists in the Maoist insurgency areas are often intimidated into silence by a climate of intolerance promoted by state authorities.
“We asked the police to track the people behind this pamphlet, but they refused to register a first information report,” said Mr. Yadav.
“If the police can arrest those in possession of Maoist pamphlets, why can’t they investigate a pamphlet that incites murder?”Courtesy:TheHindu.