[Radio Netherlands] Press freedom stifled in India’s Naxal areas

Human rights activist Himanshu Kumar says there have been cases of independent journalists being attacked, threatened, intimidated and even killed. He recounts the recent case of Lingaram Kodopi, an adivasi from Dantewada district.

Kodopi was the first tribal to be enrolled for a journalism course in Delhi. Last year, he filmed testimonies from villagers after a police raid where houses were burnt and several people were killed. After the film was released to the Indian media, Kodopi was arrested, and while he was in custody, he was brutally beaten. When his aunt, Soni Sori, filed a protest, she too was arrested and beaten. Both are now in prison, accused of being Naxalites.

Himanshu Kumar, who worked among tribal people in Chhattisgarh for nearly two decades, was himself persecuted in Dantewada. The ashram and school he established with his wife was burnt down and his family was forced to leave the state.

He now lives a life of semi-hiding in Delhi, and is still banned from returning to Chhatisgarh. “The motive behind creating panic and fear among people is that any voice of dissent, any protest against forceful land acquisition is silenced,” he says in a phone interview from Delhi. […]

Read the full article here.

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