IFJ extends its support to all colleagues in their effort to fight this latest instance of intimidation and harassment
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has appealed to Andhra Pradesh police to withdraw criminal cases lodged against S. Nagesh Kumar, who heads the State edition of the nationally circulated English language newspaper The Hindu,published from here.
In a statement, the IFJ said it was informed by affiliates in India that a criminal complaint was lodged against the newspaper and Resident Editor Nagesh Kumar, following the publication on September 13, of a report on a meeting the Director-General of Police in Andhra Pradesh, V. Dinesh Reddy, had with the head of a spiritual cult based in Hyderabad.
The criminal complaint was lodged by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Hyderabad city, within days, alleging a deliberate intent to bring the police force into disrepute.
Mr. Kumar has since secured anticipatory bail, providing him with provisional immunity against arrest. This has not prevented a number of visits by the local police to his residence, seemingly with intent to intimidate and harass him and his family.
On September 21, a posse of eight police personnel arrived at Mr. Kumar’s residence with the ostensible purpose of serving him a notice to appear at a local police station for inquiries in the case.
Three of the policemen reportedly pushed aside a security person and walked into the premises, questioning Mr. Kumar’s 81-year-old mother on his whereabouts.
The following day, two constables arrived at the Resident Editor’s home, with the stated purpose of gathering information on a medical clinic that his wife owns. They left in a hurry when a group of journalists arrived.
Again on September 22, when Mr. Kumar went to the local police station to file the papers and furnish sureties relevant to the anticipatory bail granted to him by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, he was told that the police official in charge of receiving the documents was not available.
The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), a constituent unit of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU), has protested the police highhandedness. K. Srinivas Reddy, D. Amar and K. Amarnath, all senior officials of the APUWJ, visited Andhra Pradesh police headquarters to make known their protest.
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), also a unit of the IJU, has condemned the actions of the Andhra Pradesh police and called on the Press Council of India to intervene in the matter.
The IFJ extends its support and solidarity to all affiliates and colleagues in India in their effort to fight this latest instance of intimidation and harassment.
“We fully endorse the stance taken by our partners that the report that has led to the official furore, was entirely in the public interest,” said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.