New Delhi: Freedom of expression is being "throttled" in Chhattisgarh due to "relentless crackdown by police and vigilante group", global human rights body Amnesty International said Monday as it slammed the arrests of journalists on "trumped-up" charges.
Releasing a document "Blackout In Bastar", claiming it to be an account of arrested and attacked journalists, activists and lawyers, Amnesty International, India, alleged that human rights violations in the state are being backed by the police.
"Chhattisgarh authorities have stood by and watched as their critics are intimidated and attacked by groups which seem to enjoy police support," said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.
"Freedom of expression is being throttled in Chhattisgarh as the state cracks on media and civil society. Over the last six months, they have faced relentless crackdown by the police and self-styled vigilante groups, leading to information blackout in the state," he added.
Welcoming the report by a fact-finding team of Editors Guild of India, which said there is a sense of fear among scribes in Bastar, Amnesty said it will back their fight against "human rights violations" in the state.
Kamal Shukla, editor of Bhumkal Samachar, a Bastar-based newspaper, alleged that Inspector General of Police in Bastar, Shiv Ram Prasad Kalluri "has made a list of journalists who are not nationalists" and is getting them arrested.
"We are being constantly threatened to either leave Bastar or leave journalism. Even reporting about corruption, rapes and questioning fake encounters has become Naxalism in Bastar," he said.
Amnesty also raised concerns about alleged illegal arrests and killings of adivasis, overcrowding in jails and fake surrenders. It also asked the government to repeal the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and called for prompt and impartial investigation into the matter.