Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Indian authorities arrest journalists and editors

Faced with the influence of a successful anti-imperialist and democratic struggle in neighbouring Nepal and with the strengthening of the revolutionary forces in various aprts of its own country, the Indian authorities are showing signs of panic with the arrest of progressive journalists and the editor of a legal and registered communist publication.

I don't know of the work of Prashant Rahi, arrested on December 15, 2007, but I am familiar with the publication People's March, whose editor Govindan Kutty (right) was arrested on December 19, 2007.

People's March can be accessed here: It provides insight into the armed struggle of the impoversished Indian masses under the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and excellent analyses of economic phenomena such as the US sub-prime crisis.
Kutty is on a hunger strike against his arrest and imprisonment. He was taken to hospital on December 29, and then returned to jail where he is force fed glucose, with his arms and legs tied. The police detained five human rights activists who visited him on January 8, 2008.

The cause of these arrested persons needs to be taken up internationally. Email messages of support for them to the Indian Embassy in your country.

Two separate reports on these arrests follow.


Dear friends and comrades ,

This is to inform you of the recent arrest of Prashant Rahi, a senior journalist of Uttarakhand, by the state police. Prashant was arrested on 15 th of this month in Dehradun and was allegedly charged of being a Maoist commander. The police secretly confined him for five days after which he was shown arrested from the forests of Hanspur Khatta on 21 st December. The police have charged him with various sections of IPC including 121, 121A, 124A, 153B, 120B. All the media carried the same version as stated by the police.

Just to give you a background, Prashant Rahi had been working in close association with the local people’s struggles in Uttarakhand since last 17 years. He has been a journalist by profession. Started his career from Himachal Times, moved on to The Statesman and worked many years covering people’s issues. He is a native of Maharashtra and pursued his education from Banaras Hindu University .

This incident is in continuance of the trend set by many innocent arrests in the last few months including that of Binayak Sen and some journalists in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh of targeting pro-people intellegentsia. The trend has become increasingly apparent in those parts of the country where people’s movement is strong.
We firmly believe that this state action is a part of the efforts being carried out by the various state governments to secure hefty amount of funds from the central government in the name of combating naxalism. For this, it becomes imperative for them to prove that the state is inflicted with this insurgency.

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the arrest of Prashant Rahi and call upon all the concerned individuals, civil society organisations, journalist unions, writers unions, people’s movements and struggling groups to join hands in solidarity and support.

Rajendra Dhasmana (President, PUCL, Uttarakhand)
Manglesh Dabral (Poet and Journalist)
Pankaj Bisht (Editor, Samayantar)
Anand Swaroop Verma (Journalist and Human Rights Activist)
P.C. Tiwari (National Secretary, Indian Federation of Working Journalists)
Suresh Nautiyal (General Secretary, Uttarakhand Patrakar Parishad)
Anil Chaudhary (President, INSAF)
Jagdish Yadav (Photo Editor, Pioneer)
Harsh Dobhal (Managing Editor, Combat Law)
Shekhar Pathak, Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
Gautam Navlakha (Consulting Editor, Economic and Political Weekly)
Ashish Gupta (Asamiya Pratidin)
Anil Chamadia (Journalist)
Jaspal Singh Siddhu (UNI)
A.K. Arun (Editor, Yuva Samwad)
Madan Kashyap (Poet)
Pankaj Singh (Poet and Journalist)
Karuna Madan (Journalist)
Piyush Pant (Editor, Lok Samwad)
Sarvesh (Photo Journalist)
Panini Anand (Journalist, BBC Hindi)
Avinash (Journalist, NDTV India)
Bhupen Singh (Journalist, STAR News)
Sukla Sen (CNDP India)
Aanchal Kapur (Kriti Team)
Vijayan MJ ( Delhi Forum)
Sanjay Mishra (Special Correspondent, Dainik Bhaskar)
Prem Piram (Director, Jagar Uttarakhand)
Ashok Pandey (Poet)
Arvind Gaur (Director, Asmita Theatre Group)
Pankaj Chaturvedi (Poet)
Satyam Verma (Rahul Foundation)
Ranjit Verma (Advocate)
Bishambhar (Secretary, Roji Roti Bachao Morcha)
Ajay Prakash (Journalist, The Public Agenda)
Swatantra Mishra (Journalist, IANS)
Vandana (Special Correspondent, Nai Dunia)
Shree Prakash (INSAF)
Abhishek Srivastava (Freelance Journalist)
Rajeshwar Ojha (Asha Pariwar)
Raju (Human Rights Law Network)
Rajesh Arya (Journalist)
Kamta Prasad (Linguist and Translator)
Abhishek Kashyap (Writer)
Thakur Prasad (Managing Editor, Samprati Path)
Rajiv Ranjan Jha (Writer)
Srikant Dube (Journalist)
Rishikant (Journalist)Pankaj Narayan(Journalist)Abhishek Srivastava


On 19 December, the Kerala police, under the orders of the Ernakulum Police Commissioner, raided the room of Govindan Kutty, 65, the editor and publisher of Peoples March – which is not a banned publication – and confiscated all his literature and computer hard disk.

Govindan Kutty was arrested under the charges of spreading sedition and indulging in unlawful activities and was remanded in judicial custody by a lower court at Aluva in Kerala. He was implicated in a fabricated case under a number of clauses like section 134A and 163B of the Indian Penal Code and 13 of (1) b of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and sent to Aluva prison.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state, under the close instructions of UPA Government at the Centre, resorted to this crackdown on the popular revolutionary magazine. Govindan Kutty, according to his lawyers, was harassed and psychologically tortured for a day in the name of interrogation before being sent to judicial custody. Ever since he was arrested he was on hunger strike protesting against the trampling down of his right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.He continues his protest within the four walls of the prison, demanding his unconditional release. His lawyer, who met him two days ago, said that his health condition was serious, given his age and chronic ailments he has been suffering. His life is under a serious threat.

The arrest of Govindan Kutty and the police crackdown on the office of the publication was an attack on the freedom of press.As hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of the world know, the People’s March supports all revolutionary movements, including the Maoist movements in India, Nepal and elsewhere. It is a fully legal publication registered with the registrar of newspapers of the Government of India, with the RNI number KER ENG/2000/2051, and the postal registration number KL/EKM/614/2007-09. The magazine has been coming out for over seven years (since 1998), meeting all the legal requirements. The magazine has been freely available not only in bookstalls all over India, but also in prominent libraries in New Delhi and other major cities in India and abroad.The People’s March publishes news reports and interviews with Maoists, both from India and abroad, like all other hundreds of magazines and newspapers in India.

It is People’s March today which is under attack, tomorrow all other media will face the same threat if we don’t raise our voice against this attack on freedom of the press.A year ago the website of People’s March was blocked by the Indian government without assigning any reasons. When its editors started publishing the online magazine through a blog on Googlepages, it was also blocked by Google in December 2007, under the pressure of the Indian government. [As of 7 January 2008, was working again.]

The arrest of the editor and the foisting of fake charges against him are nothing but an attempt of the government of India to further stifle freedom of speech in the country. The so-called largest democracy in the world with a gigantic army, paramilitary and police force feels threatened by a mere monthly magazine with a limited circulation of a few thousands in print. This action displays the fascist character of the Indian state and the cowardly action of the Kerala police.

The Revolutionary Democratic Front appeals to all democratic and revolutionary organizations and individuals to raise their voice against the arrest of the editor of People’s March, a popular independent revolutionary newspaper from India.

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Govindan Kutty and that the government allow the continued publication of People’s March.

We hold the government entirely responsible in the face of any damage to his health or threat to his life due to his hunger strike in jail.

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