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MALINI: Honoured with Press Freedom award.

MALINI: Honoured with Press Freedom award.   | Photo Credit: MAIL PIC

Malini Subramanian’s free and unbiased reporting in troubled torn Bastar won her an international award.

Maoist is an insurgent communist party in India which aims to overthrow the Government of India through people’s war. Malini Subramanian reported from the Maoist stronghold, Bastar in Chhattisgarh. She has been conferred the International Press Freedom Award. She is the only Indian among the four journalists — El Salvador’s Oscar Martinez, Turkey’s Can Dundar and Egyptian photographer Abou Zeid — who were facilitated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Trying times

The decades-long unrest in India’s “Red Corridor”, where Maoists insurgents are demanding a greater share of the region’s natural resources for indigenous people. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the Maoist insurgency was the biggest internal security challenge facing the country.

Subramanian, a freelance journalist contributing to Sroll.in reported on sexual violence against women, cases of abuse by police and security forces, imprisonment of minors, shut down of schools, extra-judicial killings, and threats against journalists in the region. She has been interrogated, and harassed by police and members in connection with her critical coverage of human rights abuses and politics. Despite police efforts to malign her and label her a Maoist agent, she went ahead reporting these issues.

On February 7, this year, 20 men from Samajik Ekta Manch, a local group that claimed to be a forum against Maoists, protested outside her house and “warned” her not to sully the image of the police. Later that night, stones were thrown at her house. Initially the police refused to file a First Information Report. Finally, when they did, it was weak because the charges related only to trespass and damage to property.

Later that month, Subramaniam’s domestic staff and landlord were detained by police for interrogation. Police allegedly pressured her landlord to serve the journalist an eviction notice. She decided to leave Bastar, realising that the people around her could face the repercussions of her work.

Her efforts at free and unbiased reporting however, did not go unnoticed despite the challenges she faced. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said, “These four brave journalists have risked their freedom — and their lives — to report to their societies and the global community about critical news events. CPJ is proud to honour these journalists who, in the face of repression and violence, continue to bring us vital news.”

“I feel greatly honoured by this award. But I also feel deeply resentful and angry at having been attacked, intimidated, and forced to leave the town I considered home,” admitted Subramaniam.

She went on to say that the press was under constant attack for doing its job and many reporters were arrested with trumped up charges. “The bold and supportive voices from the journalist fraternity from India and abroad was a huge pillar of strength for me”.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 10:18:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/FEARLESS-reporter/article16778047.ece

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