HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on August 31, 2021 regarding threats and fabricated charges against journalist Mr. Ramhari Gupta by Chhattisgarh police.
Mr. Gupta is a reporter with the Rihand Times, a Hindi daily published in the Sarguja regions of the state.
Mr. Gupta questioned the poor quality of construction work and was threatened by the concerned contractor, who claimed that he would lodge false cases if the HRD writes about the issue. The issue was published in the Rihand times and other dailies on July 15, 2021.
On July 27, Mr. Gupta got to know from informal sources that a case was filed against him by a mason involved in the construction workers who had accused Mr. Gupta of abusing him in casteist terms and had threatened him with physical assault. Mr. Gupta was not informed about the complaint by the police officially.
The following day, Mr. Gupta highlighted the issue with the district Superintendent of Police. A group of journalists also met the SP and highlighted the issue. Based on the direction of the SP, a police officer visited the spot and found the accusation of Mr. Gupta to be false. He was asked by the police to seek anticipatory bail since an FIR had already been filed.
This is a case of targeting and harassment of a working journalist for performing his duty by the police, who violated established protocols and procedures by neither informing the HRD about the FIR nor conducting a fair investigation in the matter. Putting such charges against journalist is in complete violation of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under section 19(a) of the Indian Constitution.