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Reporters without Borders: Security forces obstruct reporting in Chhattisgarh

From Reporters without Borders:

Published on Thursday 31 March 2011.

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the growing divide between regions such New Delhi and Mumbai that are safe for journalists and others such as Chhattisgarh where the dangers for journalists are mounting, leading to the emergence of a two-speed India as regards media freedom.

The rule of law seems almost non-existent in some parts of the world’s biggest democracy, with impunity, police abuses and the local despots routinely obstructing the media’s work. The government needs to address these problems with much more energy.

In particular, Reporters Without Borders condemns the harassment and attacks to which journalists are exposed when they try to go to Dantewada, a district in Chhattisgarh state, to cover the fighting between Maoist insurgents and the central government.

Visitors to the CGnet Swara online discussion forum have accused the security forces of robbing, raping and murdering tribal residents of Tadmetla, a village in Dantewada that is at the epicentre of the fighting. As a result, journalists have been trying to go there to investigate the claims.

Zee TV correspondent Naresh Mishra and a member of the Professional Union of Chhattisgarh Journalists were attacked and badly beaten by about 30 people when they tried to visit Tadmetla, Two local journalists who were accompanying them, Azad Saxena and Venu Gopal, disappeared for several hours.

Supriya Sharma of the Times of India was denied entry to the village when she tried to visit it, while police rammed the car of Bastar Impact editor Suresh Mahapatra and several fellow journalists and then threatened to issue a warrant for their arrest.