Journalist picked up in Bastar for posting comments on WhatsApp in Chhattisgarh

Raipur: Another local journalist based in Bastar found himself on the wrong side of the Chhattisgarh police, when he was picked up on Monday evening at 6pm. Prabhat Singh, a journalist based in Dantewada, in south Bastar was produced before a magistrate on Tuesday evening, where he stated that he had been beaten in police custody and not given food all night.


Singh, a reporter for Patrika, a Hindi daily of the Rajasthan Patrika Group, till a few days ago for the news channel ETV, has been booked under the IT act and sent to judicial remand in Jagdalpur.

Singh’s lawyer, Kishore Narain, who practices in the Bilaspur high court, told dna that Singh had been slapped with Sec 67 and 67(a) of the IT Act, which makes publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form an offence.
He added that it seems to be a “Whatsapp or Facebook post” that has been called into question. Which post does not seem to be clear and, Narain said, the investigation into the matter is still on. He did say that, “the accused has never shared any sexually explicit material on whatsapp or Facebook so the section does not hold.” However, the magistrate felt that the matter needed probing and denied the bail plea.
It is also not yet known who has filed the case against Singh.
“The next hearing is on 26 March in the sessions court Dantewada,” said Narain, where they will again ask for bail.
Bastar based writer and researcher Bela Bhatia, and Adivasi activist Soni Sori accompanied Singh to court. Bhatia told dna that they could not talk to Singh as the police would not allow any outsiders to interact with him, but she repeated what his lawyer said; Singh told the magistrate that he had been beaten in police custody.

Narain added that they don’t know yet whether that has been taken on record in court.
Singh had been writing regularly on the attacks on Soni Sori and her family, in which, according to statements issued previously by Sori’s lawyers, the police are implicated. He had also reported on alleged fake encounters in areas such as Rewali and Nahadi, where Sori too had conducted fact-finding missions in 2015.
According to a statement by the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL), Singh “informed a friend on 22 March that he was taken to Parpa Police station in Jagdalpur, beaten up all night and was not even given food. He also expressed apprehension that since the Barsoor Police Inspector and an Additional SP are present in Parap police station and old records are being checked, that he is likely to be implicated in some old cases.”
Singh’s arrest comes on the heels of the arrest of other local journalists Santosh Yadav and Samaru Nag, who’ve been held since July last year. Only recently Malini Subramanian, who writes for the online journal Scroll had to leave her home in Jagdalpur after harassment by a local group Samajik Ekta Manch. The latter had been involved in a spat with Singh too. Singh was known to be working for a law protecting journalists in the area, a patrakar suraksha kanoon.
A few days prior to his arrest, ETV terminated Singh’s services, on 19 March. ETV editors could not be reached by dna for comment.

Posted by on March 23, 2016. Filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.