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Annual Prison Census 2011 - India

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 8 December 2011
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2011 - India, 8 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0420ac28.html [accessed 29 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2011

India: 2

Sudhir Dhawale, Vidrohi
Imprisoned: January 2, 2011

Dhawale, a Mumbai-based activist and journalist, wrote about human rights violations against Dalits in the Marathi-language Vidrohi, a monthly he founded and edited.

Police arrested Dhawale in the Wardha district of Maharashtra state, where he had traveled to attend a Dalit meeting, and charged him with sedition and involvement with a terrorist group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, according to local and international news reports. They said a Maoist insurgent in custody had accused him of involvement in the banned organization's war against the state in central tribal areas of India, according to The Wall Street Journal. Police also searched Dhawale's home the following day, seizing books and a computer, the news reports said.

Dhawale's supporters say he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh state, a center of the civil violence between Maoists and the state. In a documentary on the case, Darshana Dhawale, the journalist's wife, said police had accused her husband of supporting the Maoists in his writings. The makers of the film – titled "Sudhir Dhawale: Dissent = Sedition?" – also interviewed Anand Teltumbde of the Mumbai-based Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, who said Dhawale's publication covered the Maoists but did not support them.

On January 20, police accused him of hanging Maoist posters in an unrelated case in Gondia district in December 2010. Authorities filed a new charge of waging war against the state, which carries a potential death penalty under the Indian penal code. His wife says he was in Mumbai, not Gondia, in December, according to local news reports. Dhawale was refused bail, and a trial date had yet to be scheduled as of late year.

Lingaram Kodopi, freelance
Imprisoned: September 10, 2011

Police said they arrested Kodopi in a public market in Dantewada district accepting a bribe from a representative of a steel company wanting to operate in a Maoist insurgent-controlled area, local news reports said. The journalist denied the charge and said that police had targeted him since he refused to work for them under a program to recruit tribal youths to defeat the insurgents, the New Delhi-based newsmagazine Tehelka reported.

Police accused Kodopi of being a "Maoist associate." He was charged with antistate activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, and the Indian penal code, Tehelka reported. He had not been brought to trial by late year, and the total penalty he faced was not clear.

Local human rights activists and journalists said authorities wanted to prevent Kodopi, 25, from publicizing the role of police in recent violence in the state. In April, the journalist documented the destruction of houses during an anti-Maoist police operation in three Dantewada district villages and "recorded on video precise narrations of police atrocities," Tehelka reported. Himanshu Kumar, a local human rights activist, told the Indian Express that Kodopi had evidence of government involvement in burning down three villages.

Kodopi told journalists he had fled police harassment in 2010 to study journalism and work as a freelancer in New Delhi, the Indian Express reported. While he was there, police back in Dantewada accused him of being a senior Maoist commander and masterminding an attack against a politician in Chhattisgarh. Kodopi denied the accusations in a press conference in Delhi, the Indian Express said, and he was not taken into custody at the time. Police in Dantewada would not explain whether Kodopi was believed to be a low-level Maoist "associate," as alleged in the 2011 case, or a senior commander, as they said in 2010. "We are still ascertaining his role," District Police Superintendent Ankit Garg told Tehelka.

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