The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Wednesday extended full support to journalists in Chhattisgarh in their effort to uphold media rights which “are under increasing pressure” as security forces step up operations against Maoist insurgency.
In a statement, the IFJ referred to several instances of pressure tactics being used by the police and the administration to rein in journalists. In one case, the Dantewada police asked two reporters of Hindi dailies Nai Duniya and Navbharat to reveal their source of information of reports suggesting that innocent villagers had been killed in an anti-insurgency operation.
Another instance was of a reporter of E-TV being asked to present himself before the Kanker police for broadcasting a Maoist claim taking responsibility for the murder of a local politician. Further, the IFJ cited reports stating that aggressive measures had been sanctioned by the police to dissuade out-station journalists from reporting on the anti-insurgency operations in the State.
These measures include firing at journalists who cross into Chhattisgarh from neighbouring districts of Andhra Pradesh to report on the operations.
The IFJ sought to remind the authorities in Chhattisgarh that the public had a right to be informed about events occurring in the State, “particularly in the context of the recent escalation of anti-insurgency operations and the heightened level of political rhetoric on the threat posed by Maoist insurgency to national security.”
Further, the Federation — which represents over six lakh journalists across 120 countries — once again cautioned the State authorities against the tendency to view independent journalism as “an enemy activity that lends comfort to insurgent groups.”
Instead, according to the IFJ, “to ensure the maximum public awareness and endorsement of their security operations, authorities in Chhattisgarh need to distance themselves from this mindset.”