Chhattisgarh Police on Monday slapped a case against Bastar based journalist Kamal Shukla under sedition law for sharing a cartoon lampooning the judiciary and the government on Facebook. Police officials said that the complaint was made by a Rajasthan based resident to the cyber cell who found the contents "derogatory". Later, it was transferred to Kanker police.
“We booked Shukla under Section 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of a complaint filed by a Rajasthan resident. The case was handed to us by the cyber cell in Raipur. An investigation is on, and appropriate action will be taken soon,” Hindustan Times quoted Kanker superintendent of police KL Dhruv as saying.
Shukla, also the editor of Bhumkaal Samachaar, has been writing extensively against the fake encounters. The cartoon shared by Shukla questioned the judgement of the Supreme Court on the mysterious death of judge B H Loya.
Confirming the registration of the case, Shukla, on his Facebook wall, said that journalists and intellectuals have been consistently writing against the assaults weakening the democratic institutions. He wondered if such a draconian law can be used for sharing a cartoon on Facebook!
Talking to Newsclick, Shukla said that it is not the first time when sedition law has been used against journalists in the state. "Chhattisgarh police has registered a complaint against seven journalists in the last one month. They are trying to frighten the journalists who have questioned the policies of Raman Singh government. Nitin Sinha and Saurabh Agarwal of Raigarh were slapped with cases when they raised questions through their reporting."
"I am not the only person who has questioned the judgement of the Supreme Court related to the mysterious death of judge B H Loya. Common people were expecting that the Supreme Court will allow an independent investigation. Similarly, the opposition parties' move to bring an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice showed the judiciary is working under pressure," said Shukla.
Emphasising on the complaint, Shukla said the complainant in the matter is a resident of Rajasthan which in itself appears suspicious. "Like IT Cells, political parties have formed legal cells to scrutinise content on social media which opposes their policies. Then, they register a complaint to silence them," added Shukla.
The Chhattisgarh police have been notorious for its action against journalists. Further, the journalists fear persecution if they are not registered in the Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) or have not been provided with an accreditation by the DPR. Chhattisgarh Police only recognises those journalists who are registered in DPR.
Malini Subramaniam, a contributor to Scroll.in was intimidated and forced to leave Bastar when she reported about human right violations by the security forces. Since her name was not registered in DPR, she has been deprived of security. Similarly, Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav were slapped with sedition because their reporting made the administration "uncomfortable". Nag's family was informed about his arrest three days later.