Chhattisgarh: Journalist arrested for allegedly taking a dig at a cop on WhatsApp

The journalist, Prabhat Singh, was produced in a local court on Tuesday, where he alleged that he had been “assaulted by policemen in custody”.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | Raipur | Updated: March 23, 2016 5:08 pm
chhattisgarh journalist arrest, chhattisgarh journalist whatsapp, chhattisgarh news, chhattisgarh cop whatsapp, india news Dantewada-based journalist Prabhat Singh. (Source: ANI)

With the Opposition in Chhattisgarh slamming the BJP government for “turning Bastar into a police state”, a Dantewada-based journalist was arrested in Jagdalpur on Monday for allegedly posting an “obscene message” about a senior police officer on WhatsApp groups.

The journalist, Prabhat Singh, was produced in a local court on Tuesday, where he alleged that he had been “assaulted by policemen in custody”. He was later remanded in judicial custody until March 31, according to his lawyer.

Singh was also charged with three other cases from 2015, two of which were based on charges of alleged cheating linked to an Aadhaar facilitation centre that he runs in Dantewada while another was linked to a story that he had pursued.

READ | Journalist arrest in Bastar: an assertion of police power?

While Singh’s lawyer said he would move for bail in the sessions court in the latest case, after the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) rejected the first plea, the Congress party described the arrest as “an attempt to silence journalists”.

Police said Singh was arrested following a complaint about a WhatsApp message that read: “Patrakaar suraksha kanoon se keval unhen parhez hai jo already mama ki ***** mein baithe hai (Only those who are already sitting in mama’s ***** have a problem with the journalists’ protection law). “Mama” is a term used commonly by journalists in the region to refer to a top police officer in the Bastar range.

The latest police move follows similar arrests of local journalists Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag, both in prison for allegedly helping Naxals. Besides, a contributor for the website Scroll.in was allegedly forced to leave Bastar under police pressure.

Vishnu Singh, Singh’s brother, said that the journalist was picked up from outside the Aadhar centre around 5 pm on Monday. “We were told later that he was kept in the Parpa police station through the night, and had been arrested on charges relating to the IT Act. When we met him today (Tuesday), he told us he had been assaulted at the station,” he alleged.

A senior police officer said the latest case against Singh was registered under section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) and 67(A) of the IT Act as well as section 292 (publication of obscene or scurrilous matter) of the Indian Penal Code.

“The FIR was registered on March 5 based on a complaint by Santosh Tiwari, who accused Prabhat Singh of using obscene language with reference to senior police officers in Bastar on a WhatsApp group called ‘Bastar News’ on March 1 at around 3 pm. Police has followed procedure and all allegations of assault are incorrect,” the officer said.

Earlier this month, Singh had filed a complaint against Tiwari and members of the Samajik Ekta Manch, a controversial social organisation in Bastar that conducts events along with Chhattisgarh police, and accused them of defaming him in WhatsApp groups using abusive language.

In his complaint to Dantewada police, Singh had said that Tiwari, a former ETV correspondent based in Bijapur, had “personal enmity” against him. Incidentally, Singh’s arrest comes two days after ETV, the channel he was employed with for the past two months, sent him a termination notice. ETV officials refused to speak on record but said Singh’s removal was due to “wholly unrelated reasons”.

Asked about the other cases slapped on Singh, his advocate Khitij Dubey said, “One relates to a case where Singh had gone to report on cheating in a school, where the authorities framed him in a false case of taking photographs of girls in the toilet. Two other cases are related to section 420 (cheating) where he is accused of taking money to make Aadhar cards. Singh has told me that these cases are false. Importantly, these cases are of 2015 and there have been no arrests so far. Just because he was arrested in this case, they have been added by police.”

Reacting to the arrest, State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel said, “I raised the matter in the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday and have asked the Home Minister to give a response. They are attempting to silence journalists.”

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

First Published on: March 23, 2016 4:18 am
  1. K
    K SHESHU
    Mar 23, 2016 at 10:57 am
    "Kuch Na kahenge lub seelengey ... Aasu peelengee... Gum sey ghabrana kaise ghum sau baar milaa...." SAHIR
    Reply
    1. A
      Am A
      Mar 23, 2016 at 5:40 am
      Are we slowy moving to fascist tendencies that you get houndedjust b'coz you have an opinion or don't agree with anyone? When such tendencies become systematic then it gets scary.
      Reply
      1. A
        Ashok Kriplani
        Mar 23, 2016 at 1:20 am
        I believe he is being framed by the known notorious acts of Police.
        Reply
        1. R
          R S
          Mar 23, 2016 at 4:47 am
          This is the action of a police state.
          Reply
          1. D
            david
            Mar 23, 2016 at 6:09 am
            These things are common in a conflict or war zone and the so called indian liberal media is famous for their support to terrorists and naxals.
            Reply
            1. F
              Franky
              Mar 23, 2016 at 2:21 am
              The journalist should be given solid beating imside the jail with his legs tied up till he wets his pant and the water flows like foutain. This guys are doing too much and has no respect for anyone and just doing anything as media and thinking of expression and media is powerful
              Reply
              1. R
                Raghu Panjala
                Mar 23, 2016 at 7:56 am
                I appreciate, all liberals and left NOT LOOSING hope and fighting with improved vigor against high handedness of BJP, sangh. its just NOT their nation ONly. This nation is for all of us. Time to put these fascists in their place. Very much encouraged that many IE comments are for truth, democracy, rights .
                Reply
                1. R
                  Raghu Panjala
                  Mar 23, 2016 at 7:32 am
                  Is Chattisgarh, a Kashmir or an Iraq? Whom are we fighting if its a war zone? If its a war zone, let the govt create tougher IPC laws that way journos will have shout their mouths and pens?
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    Raghu Panjala
                    Mar 23, 2016 at 7:51 am
                    Yeah all lower castes shoud receive same treatment.Anger of upper castes loosing status is understandable. Times will come when they will know their true place in modern world
                    Reply
                    1. I
                      indian
                      Mar 23, 2016 at 5:58 am
                      were those a words used by a journalist ? nothing wrong is arresting such pseudo journalist and TEACHING them a lesson
                      Reply
                      1. J
                        JJ
                        Mar 23, 2016 at 6:08 am
                        High handedness and in Desi term "Dadagiri" nothing else. Agar tum awaz karoge to daba diye jaoge.
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          Jeslin Patricya
                          Mar 23, 2016 at 9:30 am
                          Adding Kanhaiya here!
                          Reply
                          1. L
                            Laxmi Narayan Naren
                            Mar 23, 2016 at 12:26 am
                            Case may be registered for obscene language, but whether it refer to any Police Officer is not to be taken prima facie.
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              Arjun
                              Mar 23, 2016 at 4:07 am
                              Is this what you dad used to do to you? Where is this cruelty coming from?
                              Reply
                              1. M
                                Mohan
                                Mar 23, 2016 at 6:08 am
                                The picture posted by you IE, was it taken before the alleged ault or after the alleged ault ?
                                Reply
                                1. P
                                  Parth Garg
                                  Mar 23, 2016 at 8:36 am
                                  It is wrong to target police who have to work under tremendous strain not so much from Naxalites but from public, bureaucrats and the ruling dispensation. Journalists need to understand them.
                                  Reply
                                  1. N
                                    NANDA
                                    Mar 23, 2016 at 8:10 am
                                    SILENCE IS BEST MEDITATION AS I FEEL THAT FOR EVERY ACTION THERE IS REACTION
                                    Reply
                                    1. s
                                      sunder,odisha
                                      Mar 23, 2016 at 4:24 am
                                      If a crime is commited be it journalist be it common man the course of action is same. If your version is silencing journalist, you are supporting crime. The judiciary will declare him guilty or not guilty . Why bark now ?
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        SP
                                        Mar 23, 2016 at 7:45 am
                                        The party supporting it is on its way out.
                                        Reply
                                        1. R
                                          Rahul
                                          Mar 23, 2016 at 4:18 am
                                          Long Live Freedom of Expression!!! Ooops I forgot this is Dictator Fascist Regime, I am get Arrested for this Comment!
                                          Reply
                                          1. R
                                            Rahul
                                            Mar 23, 2016 at 4:19 am
                                            Long Live Freedom of Expression!!! Ooops I forgot this is Dictator Fascist Regime, I may get Arrested for this Comment!
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments