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Was threatened by CRPF officials, alleges Chhattisgarh’s tribal journalist

Journalists have been at the receiving end in Bastar region for what activists say are persistent attempts by the local police to intimidate the media.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2018 17:53 IST
Ritesh Mishra and S Kareemuddin
Ritesh Mishra and S Kareemuddin
Hindustan Times, Raipur/Bastar
CRPF officials,Bastar region,CRPF threaten journalist
Journalist Lingaram Kodopi alleges that CRPF officials are harassing him because he raised the molestation case by jawans of the force in Chhattisgarh’s Palnar area.(Lingaram Kodopi /Facebook)

A tribal journalist in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district has alleged he was threatened by the personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and that he is being harassed for raising issues of molestation and atrocities by security forces in the Bastar region, a charge denied by the CRPF.

Lingaram Kodopi said he was returning from his village, Sameli, in the evening on Sunday on his motorcycle when he was stopped by some soldiers of the paramilitary force at a checkpoint.

“I was stopped and one of them said, ‘Kanpatti pe lagaun kya (Should I hit you)’? When I asked what I have done they told me to meet a senior officer in the camp. I met the senior officer and told him that I was stopped without any reasons,” Kodopi, also a human rights activist, said over the phone.

“When I said that I will make a complaint with the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission of India) and senior officers about the matter, he started abusing me and threatened me,” he added.

Kodopi said he approached Dantewada’s superintendent of police Kamalochan Kashyap and lodged a complaint against the CRPF personnel.

“I have also sent a letter to the NHRC. They are trying to harass me because I have raised the molestation case by CRPF jawans in Palnar area. They are continuously tracking me and my life is in danger,” he added.

CRPF’s deputy inspector general AK Singh said the allegations made by Kodopi are baseless.

“I have talked to all concerned and found that he was stopped at the check post of Sameli and was heavily drunk. He was advised not to drive after drinking. No one threatened him,” Singh said.

Superintendent of police Kashyap said he has ordered an inquiry into the matter.

“He called me on the phone on the same night and narrated the alleged incident. Today, he has submitted a written complaint about the matter and we have ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter,” the senior police official said.

Journalists have been at the receiving end in Bastar region for what activists say are persistent attempts by the local police to intimidate the media.

Four local journalists have been arrested since 2016 and a visiting BBC newsman was forced to leave the district. Another was forced to flee the region after being accused of having Maoist links.

Santosh Yadav, a Bastar-based journalist, was arrested in October 2015 on suspicion that he had links with Maoist leader Shankar in Darbha area of the region.

He was booked on charges of rioting, criminal conspiracy and associating with a terrorist organisation. He released from jail after 17 months after the Supreme Court granted him bail in February 2017.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 17:51 IST