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Panel to seek report from cops over scribes’ arrest

Amid controversy over arrest of journalists in Chhattisgarh’s Naxal-affected Bastar region, a high-level government committee constituted to protect the rights of scribes on Monday decided to call for a report from the police.

“Detailed report of cases related to (journalists) Prabhat Singh, Deepak Jaiswal, Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav will be sought from the Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) and concerned Superintendents of Police and will be discussed during the next meeting on April 6,” said Rajesh Sukumar Toppo, director, Chhattisgarh public relations department.

The committee comprises general administration department secretary Vikassheel, Toppo himself, secretary of home department Arundev Gautam, CID ADG Rajeev Srivastava and senior journalists Ruchir Garg and Manikuntala Bose.

The committee also discussed ‘definition’ of journalist, in view of the Bastar police’s claim that those arrested were not listed as mediapersons in the record of public relation office, and were engaged in other business activities.

Prabhat Singh was arrested on March 22 under the IT Act for posting objectionable content on a WhatsApp group and in three other cases, while Jaiswal was held on March 26 on a complaint for allegedly entering a school premises without permission during an exam and manhandling the staff. Both are based in Dantewada district.
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