Doddipalya Narasimha Murthy, current state secretary of the Swaraj India party, Karnataka; a vocal social activist and a journalist, was arrested by the Raichur police on the evening of October 24. Reportedly, the police do not even have a case against him. The police have charged him with sedition for a case dating back 25 years ago and writing a letter to the Prime Minister.
The police have also claimed that Murthy was an absconding person, when he has been a visible public figure for the last three decades and a resident of Bengaluru. As a report in the Gauri Lankesh News noted, he has been charged in the cases that have already been closed by the courts. This report also noted that this arrest is part of a larger project of the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state to curb dissent. The report observed, “Two months ago Bangalore police had arrested Karnataka Ranadheera Pade (Kannada organisation) founder B. Harish Kumar on flimsy grounds of disturbing communal harmony when ruling party ministers have been giving derogatory and communal speeches openly in public spaces with no action taken against them. Last week, Vijayapura police have filed charges against protesters who organised “Justice for Danamma” urging justice for the rape victim.”
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Narasimha Murthy, following the assassination of Gauri Lankesh had started a whistle blower journal called Nyaya Patha, that carried writings critical of the government. In a statement released by Swaraj India, they have termed the arrest as an “assault” on progressive, liberal, democratic and Ambedkarite thinkers and activists who openly disagree with the political ideology and practices of the ruling party.
The statement further said, “It may be kept in mind that there is an increasing incidence of human rights activists and thinkers being slapped with false cases, and being arrested. With this hasty arrest, there is the fear that the ruling party is trying to suppress people who speak against it. Suppressing the voices of dissent is a serious setback to democracy.” The civil society in the state has come together protesting the arrest and demanding an immediate release of Murthy. There were protests organised by various progressive organisations in Bengaluru, Nanjangoodu, Kolar, Madya and other places on Monday, October 28.
Also Watch: Increased Attacks on Media in Modified India
As reported by NewsClick earlier, there have been increasing cases of perils against journalists. From female journalists groped and assaulted by police in India’s capital, three journalists mowed down and killed, senior journalist shot and killed in front of her home allegedly by Hindu extremists, young journalist killed while covering protests, photojournalist branded as a ‘stone-pelter’ and arrested by the state agency in the Indian side of Kashmir, journalists have been forced to live in the constant fear of being branded as ‘Maoists’ and jailed.
This is largely the case in all the BJP-ruled states in the country. Those journalists who call out these governments are often labelled seditious and are either arrested by the state police or assaulted and killed by the extremist groups.