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Chhattisgarh assures probe into scribe assault

The Chhattisgarh government said Saturday that it would probe the alleged assault of a journalist by civil militia personnel and punish the guilty.

The assurance came after the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the Nov 15 attack on Afzal Khan, a journalist, by Salwa Judum cadres - part of the civil militia movement funded by the state.

Khan is a correspondent of HindSat, Bastar region's local daily. He was allegedly assaulted and tortured by Salwa Judum personnel in the Maoist-hotbed of Bhopalpatnam.

They also threatened to kill him if he made the incident public and wrote anti-militia articles.

Khan has reportedly got 11 stitches and his whole family has been threatened by Salwa Judum activists.

Bhopalpatnam is in Dantewada district, one of the worst hit by Maoist insurgency that has left over 300 civilians dead since January.

'The alleged attack on the scribe is extremely painful. The home department will probe the matter and take action against the officials if any were involved,' Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramvichar Netam told IANS.

The France-based group Reporters Without Borders too condemned the incident.

It said: 'The Chhattisgarh government's use of armed militia, responsible for frequent abuses, has very harmful consequences for the work of local reporters.'

Netam added: 'The civil militia movement is not controlled by the government. It's a spontaneous outburst by the people of Bastar suffering from Maoist militancy for three decades. I will probe whether any official was directly or indirectly involved in the assault.'

He said the government was committed to ensure the safety of media persons posted in Bastar's 40,000 sq km hostile terrain.

A few journalists of Bastar wrote a letter to Chief Minister Raman Singh Wednesday saying it was tough to carry on 'impartial, independent and fearless journalism in rural parts of Bastar since journalists are under pressure from both sides - the militia and the rebels'.

The Forum for Fact-finding, Documentation and Advocacy wrote to the National Human Rights Commission earlier this week requesting it to probe the 'illegal detention and torture of Afzal Khan and direct the Chhattisgarh government to prevent such attacks on journalists'.

Date posted: November 26, 2006Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 4327