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Threats, intimidation, ransom demands and arrest of journalist Shiv Kumar Chaurasia under fabricated charges by Chhattisgarh Police

Shiv Kumar Chaurasia

Journalist

Chhattisgarh

HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on September 14, 2021, regarding the arrest of journalist Mr. Shiv Kumar Chaurasia under fabricated charges by Chhattisgarh Police in reprisal for questioning and exposing corruption among police officials. 

Mr. Chaurasia is a journalist based out of the Balrampur district of Chhattisgarh and working as a reporter with Clipper 28, a print and online news portal. 

On April 21, 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Mr. Chaurasia received a tip-off about some migrant workers walking on the Barkhapala highway in the Balrampur district. When he asked the workers, he was told that they were being allowed after bribing the police. He recorded the conversation as video in a digital camera intending to file a news report.

Police personnel present at the spot noticed it, they assaulted him and confiscated his phone. After this incident, Mr. Chaurasia tried to file a formal complaint in the local police station about the incident but it was not filed. Mr. Chaurasia later got to know that a case had been registered against him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code at the Basantpur Police Station. Mr. Chaurasia complained to the Inspector General of Police, Ambikapur Range, in writing on May 29, 2020, demanding penal action against the erring police officials.

On May 18, 2021, Mr. Chaurasia called Wadrafnagar Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) to inquire about his case. The SDPO informed him that the case was fabricated and asked him to visit the police station. When he reached the police station, the officer asked him to pay Rs. 50,000 as a bribe or else he will be arrested in the pending case. He was allowed to leave only after paying Rs. 5,000 to the officer. 

The incident was covered by several newspapers. On August 16, 2021, around 30-35 journalists including Mr. Chaurasia met the Superintendent of Police of Balrampur at his office and submitted a written complaint about his case and he gave assurance to the journalists about conducting a fair probe.

On August 20, 2021, when Mr. Chaurasia was outside the Wadrafnagar Tehsildar’s office, he was forcibly taken by four policemen to the Wadrafnagar outpost and was declared arrested.  Mr. Chaurasia was produced in the Wadrafnagar lower court and sent to the District Jail in Ramanujganj. He was released on bail a week later. 

The entire incident clearly shows that the working journalist was targeted, threatened, intimidated, forced to pay a bribe, and arrested under fabricated charges by the police with the clear intention to hide their corrupt practices. The actions of the police are a clear abuse of their power. It is also in clear violation of the right to exercise freedom of speech and expression along with the right to assemble peacefully guaranteed under Article 19 (a) and (b) of the Indian Constitution along with his arrest was a complete violation of DK Basu guidelines. 

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