March 24, 2016
NEW DELHI- Police in eastern India arrested a local journalist and beat him after he criticized authorities on social media and demanded a law protecting reporters in a region embroiled in a Maoist insurgency, his supporters said Wednesday.
Prabhat Singh was taken away by police late Monday, said his brother, Vishnu Singh. Prabhat Singh works in the Bastar region of India's Chhattisgarh state, a center for rebels who stage hit-and-run attacks on government troops across central and eastern India. The rebellion has been described as India's biggest internal security threat.
Singh was brought before a court Tuesday and charged with circulating obscene material, his lawyer Khitij Dubey said. The lawyer said Singh told the court that he was beaten in custody.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded that Chhattisgarh authorities release Singh immediately.
Chhattisgarh state is a difficult place for reporters because criticism of security forces is often viewed as support for the rebels. Two other journalists have been arrested in the last year and are fighting charges of supporting the Maoists.
"The arrests and hounding of journalists and their defenders has given way to a climate of fear that risks turning parts of Chhattisgarh into a media black hole," CPJ's Asia program senior research associate Sumit Galhotra said in the statement.
The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, demand a greater share of wealth from the area's natural resources and more jobs for farmers and the poor. They often attack security forces and government officials and disrupt elections, which they see as perpetuating inequalities.
Ongoing government offensives have had little lasting impact. - AP
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