Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2012
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 and seized books and a computer, the news reports said.
Dhawale's supporters said 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, 2011, 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 has said Dhawale was in Mumbai, not Gondia, that December, according to local news reports.
Dhawale, who was being held in Maharashtra state prison, was refused bail in March 2012. His court proceedings were pending in late year, according to an activist, Lenin Raghuvanshi, who was tracking the case.
Lingaram Kodopi, freelance
Imprisoned: September 10, 2011
Police said they arrested Kodopi, 25, in a public market in Dantewada district as he was 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 accusation and said the police had targeted him because he had 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 anti-state 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 penalties he faced were not clear.
Local human rights activists and journalists said authorities wanted to prevent Kodopi from publicizing the role of police in recent violence in the state. In April 2011, the journalist had 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 the burning of 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, Dantewada police accused him of being a senior Maoist commander and masterminding an attack against a politician in Chhattisgarh. Kodopi denied the accusations at 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.
Kodopi had not received bail by October 2012, according to Kumar, who met with CPJ in New York. The journalist was subjected to torture while in prison, according to Kumar and the Association for India's Development and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative.
Naveen Soorinje, Kasturi TV
Imprisoned: November 7, 2012
Soorinje, 28, a TV journalist who documented a large-scale attack on young women and reported the episode to police in Karnataka state, was arrested by authorities in Mangalore on more than a dozen charges, including rioting and assault, according to local and international news reports. CPJ considers the arrest to be retaliatory.
Soorinje, among other journalists, had been tipped off that a large group of men were chasing, beating, and groping teenaged women at a local birthday party in July, the reports said. The assailants, described as Hindu hard-liners, were apparently angered that the women were associating with men at the party, according to reports.
On arrival, Soorinje reported the attack to police and filmed it for the Kannada-language news channel Kasturi TV, according to the New Delhi-based newsmagazine Tehelka. The 43 other individuals who were charged were identified on the basis of Soorinje's footage, Tehelka reported.
Soorinje has denied taking part in the attack. His news report accused police of responding slowly to his repeated calls reporting the assault, and of "chatting" with the assailants once they did arrive, the People's Union for Civil Liberties said in a statement. Human rights activists have broadly accused police in Karnataka of allowing attacks against women as a supposed form of "moral policing," the BBC reported. Karnataka is led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
A Mangalore court denied Soorinje's request for bail on November 27, according to G. Vishnu, a Tehelka journalist reporting on the case.
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