"Made To Undergo Tremendous Mental Pressure": Three Journalists Detained In Chhattisgarh For 8 Hrs
Three journalists were detained for three hours by the Chhattisgarh Police on October 20 in Narayanpur district in the Bastar region. The three journalists were there in the region to cover the run-up to the state Assembly elections which are to take place in two phases – November 12 and 20. They were allegedly detained without any proper reason.
As reported by Scroll, the detained journalists were- Siddharthya Roy, working with The Diplomat, Kamal Shukla, a Bastar-based freelance journalist and a video journalist Bhushan Choudhari.
Shukla told The Scroll that the trio had been to Narayanpur, an area which is seeing an intense conflict between the security forces and the armed Maoist guerrillas who are opposed to the election. The trio, while interacting with the residents, realised that most of them wished to participate and demanded facilities like clean water, education and roads.
On Friday their vehicle broke down and the team decided to hitch rides on cycles and motorcycles on Saturday, after spending a night at an Ashram. They were stopped by the police at the Kurushnar check post. They were in for a rude shock when they were taken to the police station even after producing identity – related documents.
“Tremendous mental pressure”
The journalists claim that their equipment was snatched and they were asked to switch off the phones. They were denied any opportunity to contact anyone. Reportedly, they were kept in custody for about four hours and during that duration, they were subjected to intense questioning. Later, a deputy sub-inspector arrived who then checked their documents. They were then taken to Superintendent of Police Jitendra Shukla’s office from where they were released at 9:30 pm, but not before their documents being checked for again.
The journalists claim that the police copied the camera’s memory card before returning it and also that they were made to sign papers saying that they were not harassed.
Again on Sunday, police commandos reportedly entered the hotel room where they were staying and asked for their IDs.
Even after 8 hours of detention and interrogation by three different levels of police officers at two different police stations, police in Narayanpur is still not done.
Today morning, police commandos walked into our rooms demanding IDs and taking photos pic.twitter.com/THLy09u13f
— Siddharthya Roy (@siddharthyaroy) October 21, 2018
Roy told Scroll, “We were not physically harmed, but we were made to go through tremendous mental pressure.”
“Wouldn’t have faced trouble if they had informed”
Speaking on the detention of the journalist, SP Shukla said that the whole incident could have been avoided if the journalists had informed the police about their travel plans beforehand. He said, “We will not stop journalists from covering the news, but we want to be informed. After all, it is good for us to know how the people inside [the Maoist areas] are, what they think and want, and help us understand what the fight is all about.”
Reacting to this, Roy said that if it was just a case of confusion, it could have been solved with a phone call at Kurushnar police station and that there was no need to detain them for hours.