The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) condemned Wednesday the killing of journalist Sai Reddy by Maoists in Bijapur district of Bastar region earlier this month. In a statement, the PUDR slammed the subsequent admission by Maoists that Reddy was killed because he “played an active role against the people’s movement in Basaguda and Usur in the last two decades”.
PUDR secretaries Asish Gupta and D Manjit noted: “Ironically, Sai Reddy not only wrote against Salwa Judum but was arrested by the police in 2008 and charged under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act for allegedly being a Maoist supporter.
“PUDR is convinced that the death sentence meted out by CPI (Maoist) cannot be defended because all death sentences are arbitrary, subjective and irrevocable.”
The PUDR also noted that in February, Maoists had killed another Bastar-based journalist Nemichand Jain in Sukma, and later apologised for the killing saying it was “a miscalculation and result of narrow-mindedness of the lower committee”.
“Such an apology falls short of the obligation that all sides in an armed conflict have towards civilians in general and journalists, doctors, teachers and other non-combatants. First, an apology after killing does not necessarily commit the Party (CPI-Maoist) to put a stop to carrying out death sentences, as evident from the more recent killing of Sai Reddy. The irrevocability and finality associated with a death sentence apart, as seen in Nemichand’s killing, such conduct is in defiance of humanitarian laws that govern armed conflicts/wars,” the PUDR statement said.
Highlighting the growing indiscipline in the CPI (Maoist), the PUDR questioned whether the rebels are serious about implementing their own constitution. “The killings were carried out without complying with the provision of their own constitution which obliges the local committee under Article 5(h) of the ‘policy programme of Revolutionary People’s Committees’ to seek approval of higher instance,” the statement noted.
Binayak Sen condemns; Sai Reddy not informer: DGP
NEW DELHI: In a busy market in the troubled Bastar region of Chhattisgarh earlier this month, four Maoists armed with an axe and knives hacked a senior journalist to death, just 100 metres from a police station.
Sai Reddy, the Bijapur bureau chief of the Deshbandhu newspaper, was one of many civilian who were killed by the Maoists, or Naxals, in the state’s conflict zone that has a long history of violence.
The killing has also invited strong criticism from an unlikely source — Binayak Sen’s People Union for Civil Liberties that usually targets excesses of the security forces.
“We strongly condemn this killing. We do not approve of violence,” Sen, who was earlier convicted and jailed for his alleged links with Naxals and is fighting sedition charges at the Chhattisgarh High Court, told ET.
The editor of a prominent regional newspaper said he does not support the boycott but that he has no “moral authority” to tell his journalists in Bastar to stop doing so, because he cannot ensure their safety.
The Naxals, in a statement on December 17, said they killed Sai because he was working as a police informer and spy. The state’s director general of police, Ram Niwas, denied this, telling ET that Sai was in no way helping his force.
In fact, Sai had been arrested by Chhattisgarh police in 2008, branding him as a Naxal sympathiser.
Since 2008, the extremists have killed 1,156 civilians for similar reasons, home ministry data show.
“How can a journalist be working both for police and the Naxals? What is simply not understood by both sides here is that an independent journalist has to speak to both the Naxals and police in a conflict zone to get a true picture,” S Karimmudin, who heads the Bastar District Journalist Association, told ET.