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Assam journalist released from judicial custody

In late November 1997, the Advisory Committee, the local administrative body for the National Security Act (NSA), concluded that the grounds for detaining Ajit Bhuyan, former editor of the Assamese-language daily newspaper "Asomiya Protidin" and its sister paper, the Assamese-language weekly "Sadin", were not acceptable and ordered his release.

Following this decision, the central government immediately dismissed the members of the committee. Bhuyan was immediately re-arrested by the Nagaon Police for having ties to the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Bhuyan, who was in very poor health, had been hospitalized at the Assam Medical College Hospital, under judicial custody. He was released from judicial custody on 3 December 1997, and returned home from the hospital on 13 December 1997.

Upon being released from judicial custody, Bhuyan was fired by Jayanta Barua, the owner of the "Asomiya Protidin" and "Sadin" newspapers, who had been threatened with arrest under the NSA if he failed to fire Bhuyan. Bhuyan has since launched his own newspaper, the Assamese-language weekly newspaper "Natoon Somoy" (New Times).

Bhuyan was originally arrested on 25 August 1997, when state authorities linked him to the ULFA and accused him of complicity in the kidnapping and murder of social activist Sanjay Ghosh, who died while being held by ULFA members. Since 25 August, Bhuyan has been arrested four times and charged with related crimes. On 1 October 1997, he was arrested and accused of having ties to the ULFA and charged under the NSA with "attempting to wage war against the country."

CPJ believes that Bhuyan was targeted by authorities because of "Asomiya Protidin" and "Sadin"'s coverage of the separatist conflict in northeastern India.

Date posted: March 19, 1998Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1490