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Bastar journalist named suspect in criminal case

first_imgThe Bastar police have named Devsharan Tiwari, a senior journalist with local Hindi newspaper Deshbandhu in the Maoist insurgency-hit region of Chhattisgarh, as a suspect in a criminal case.The police told a court in Jagdalpur that Mr. Tiwari was “absconding”, but the journalist claimed that he had been working from his office, which is within half a kilometre of the Superintendent of Police’s office in Bastar. Mr. Tiwari said, “Three months ago, a clash broke out between two groups of the Bastar Transport Union near Nagarnar town. One group belonged to the Congress party and the other one was close to the BJP. After the clash, a FIR was registered against a few persons. Last week, the police presented its findings in the court and submitted my name as a suspect who has been on the run for the past three months.” He added, “I was taken aback because for the past three months I have been roaming around freely in Bastar. In that time, officers from the Police Control Room had invited me several times to attend press conferences and I made sure I was present at the meetings.”Mr. Tiwari is the fifth journalist from Bastar to face a police investigation in the past two years. He said his reports against the police and certain groups during the crackdown on activists and journalists in Bastar would have caused ill-will against him. “I am a journalist who is recognised by the government. The police did not bother to ask the government’s publicity department or my newspaper editor about me. A few lawyers told me that my name was not in the FIR until last week. This is the handiwork of groups involved in the attacks on activists and journalists in Bastar. I am being targeted because I reported against them in my newspaper.”The Bastar Press Club, meanwhile, termed the case against Mr. Tiwari “a conspiracy”. S. Karimuddin, president, Bastar Press Club, said, “There is anger among journalists in Bastar over the case. We will take up the matter with senior officers and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.”Arif Shiekh, Bastar Superintendent of Police, denied that they were pressured to name Mr. Tiwari as a suspect in the case. “We have not charge-sheeted anybody in this case as yet. Twenty two accused were named by the complainant and we have arrested four of them. We are probing charges against the 18. If found not guilty, they will be discharged. Right now they are just suspects. We have not named anyone indiscriminately.”last_img

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