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Andhra Journalists, TV Channels Under Attack for Being Critical of YSR Congress

On October 15, K Sathyanarayana, who was a reporter with the Telugu newspaper Andhrajyothi was killed.
Freedom of speech

In the last three months, at least three YSR Congress MLAs have been booked for attacks on journallists—including a murder case. It has been alleged that the ruling party legislators have targeted journalists for reporting news critical of them or the state government. 

Meanwhile, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy empowered principal secretaries of all the departments last week to file cases against print, electronic media houses if ‘distorted or malafide intended’ news pertaining to their respective departments are circulated. 

On October 15, 45-year-old K Sathyanarayana, who was a reporter with the Telugu newspaper Andhrajyothi was killed by two assailants near his residence in S Annavaram village in Tuni mandal, East Godavari District. According to a police complaint filed by K Gopalakrishna, brother of the deceased, Tuni MLA Dadisetti Raja, who is also the government chief whip, could have supported the murderers. 

“Raja (MLA) had threatened (the deceased) in the presence of other reporters after the completion of counting in Assembly polls in May that he would see the end of Satyanarayana... Several people had made threatening calls to my brother saying that Raja was backing them," Satyanarayana's brother, Gopalakrishna, told the Times of India newspaper. It has also been reported that a month ago, Sathyanarayana escaped an attack and had filed a complaint and sought police protection. 

On September 23, Naidu Nagarjuna Reddy, a reporter with the Telugu daily Surya, reportedly escaped death, as he was attacked by a gang of 25 people “in the presence of a YSR Congress leader in Prakasam district”. According to the FIR registered by the police, Nagarjuna stated that he was gheraoed by 25 persons along with Amanchi Krishna Mohan, former MLA and YSRCP leader, and was stabbed several times and was beaten up with iron rods. Nagarjuna suffered five fractures and seven stab wounds.

“Although I have highlighted and exposed former MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan for his involvement in land-grabbing, sand mafia, and intimidation many times before, this attack was provoked because I helped a 10-year-old girl write a letter to the CM against Amanchi,” Nagarjuna told The Indian Express. 

On August 25, Avula Manohar, a reporter with the Telugu news channel Maha News, was attacked by unidentified persons near Stone Valley School in Rayadurg town.

Manohar alleged that he was attacked by the henchmen of Rayadurg YSR Congress MLA Kapu Ramachandra Reddy. However, police had refused to name the MLA in the FIR.

“I have been doing reports against Reddy exposing his involvement in sand mafia, shady real estate deals and high-handed behaviour. In spite of telling the police, they have not included his name in the FIR. No arrests have been made although police have identified the culprits behind this attack, and they have not called me for identification,” Manohar was quoted as saying. 

On August 11, N Dolendra Prasad, the editor of Telugu weekly Zaminryot was attacked by Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy, MLA from the Nellore Rural constituency, and his followers, Vishnu, Murali Krishna Yadav, and Suresh. According to the FIR registered in the case, Prasad claimed that the accused trespassed into his house “with a view to kill him with sharp weapons and dragged him from his house and also assaulted him, criminally intimidated him and attempted to murder him with a sharp weapon”.

Furthermore, two news channels, ABN Andhrajyothi and TV5, which are considered to be favorable to the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have been kept under an unoffocial ban since September, allegedly propelled by the instructions of the YSR Congress leaders. 

Although the regulator Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had on September 25 directed the multi-system operators (MSOs) to restore the two TV channels, the operators didn’t adhere to the orders citing technical reasons. 

Opposition parties including TDP, Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Jana Sena have condemned the state of media under YSR Congress government. 

Also read: Restrictions on Camerapersons in Karnataka Assembly

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