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Chhattisgarh – Journalist arrested over social media post #WTFnews

Bastar scribe arrested over social media postPAVAN DAHAT

He played a key role in highlighting many police atrocities in Dantewada district.— Photo: Special arrangement

He played a key role in highlighting many police atrocities in Dantewada district.— Photo: Special arrangement

A journalist based in Dantewada district of the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh was arrested by the police on Tuesday for allegedly writing an objectionable post on a social media group.

Prabhat Singh, a journalist with a Hindi newspaper, who also reported for a Hindi regional news channel, was allegedly detained by the Bastar district police on Monday evening.

“He was forcibly taken away by some policemen who came in a Scorpio vehicle. They did not even allow him to wear his footwear. We had no idea about his whereabouts until he was produced in a court Tuesday evening,” Prabhat Singh’s brother, Vishnu Singh, told The Hindu .

“Prabhat Singh was produced before a court in Jagdalpur on Tuesday. He is facing four cases, including one case under the IT Act, registered in Parapa police station of Jagdalpur. It is related to some of his comments on a social networking group and he was arrested in the same case. The police slapped other cases on him based on previous complaints in Dantewada. He has been sent to judicial remand until March 30,” said the arrested journalist’s lawyer, Kshitij Dube.

When asked about the ‘forcible arrest of a journalist’ from his district, Dantewada district Superintendent of Police (SP) Kamlochan Kashyap said that he was ‘unaware’ about Prabhat Singh’s whereabouts and only the Bastar district police could reveal details about him.

When asked about the scribe’s arrest, Bastar SP RN Das said he was ‘busy in a meeting’ and would talk after getting detailed information.

According to advocate Shalini Gera, who ran a free legal aid group in Bastar for tribal people until a month ago, Prabhat Singh was a fearless journalist from Dantewada and a strong critic of Bastar police boss SRP Kalluri. “He played a key role in highlighting many of the police atrocities in Dantewada district and has been writing sharp pieces on alleged encounters. Prabhat Singh has played a vital role in ensuring some space for independent reporting from the conflict-torn area,” Ms Gera said in a statement.

Known for his fearless coverage, Prabhat Singh was openly threatened by a senior police officer based in Bastar last year during a press conference and two police complaints were filed against him. His brother and the lawyer alleged that he was “tortured” all night in the police custody and not given food.

“He told me that he was tortured in the custody. It is all a conspiracy against my brother. He is being targeted for doing free and fair reporting and not buckling under the police pressure,” alleged Vishnu Singh.

The arrest of Mr Singh came a day after he was served termination notice by the local Hindi channel and his termination came a week after a “helicopter trip” to Sukma district of the channel’s senior officer bearer in Chhattisgarh with Mr Kalluri.

When asked if the channel was intimated by the police about the impending arrest of Mr Singh, the channel’s bureau head in Chhattisgarh refused to respond.

Prabhat Singh has become the third Bastar journalist to be arrested by the police in the last one year. Last year, Somaru Nag from Sukma and Santosh Yadav from Darbha town were arrested by the police for alleged Maoist links.

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