Human Rights Defenders Alert – India has issued urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission, and its Focal point of Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Forum-Asia, OMCT, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, Reporters Without Borders, on our grave concern regarding the threats received by journalist and human rights defender, Mr. Alok Prakash Putul who is reporting for BBC Hindi service based in Chhattisgarh. Mr. Alok had gone to Bastar region for his reporting assignment but due to threats from police he had to leave his assignment in the middle.
We request you to address solidarity appeals to the authorities in your organisational / individual capacities immediately. If you choose to use a model appeal that we have created, please feel free to do the same. It is appended – use after filling the portions in red. Beneath the model appeal are the addresses of the authorities. Please send copies of your urgent appeals to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and Regards
Secretariat – HRDA India
(Your Organisation/Individual letterhead)
(A line introducing yourself/ your organization)
We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the threats received by journalist and human rights defender, Mr. Alok Prakash Putul who is reporting for BBC Hindi service based in Chhattisgarh. Mr. Alok had gone to Bastar region for his reporting assignment but due to threats from police he had to leave his assignment in the middle.
Sourceof Information on the Incident:
Status of the Human Rights Defender:
Mr. Alok Prakash Putul aged about 42 years is a progressive journalist based at Bilaspur district in the state of Chhattisgarh. He has been associated with journalistic profession for the last 27 years. Initially he started working with local vernacular newspapers published from Chhattisgarh. In 1990 he joined “Daily Janshakti” as a correspondent. Later he worked with Deshpran, Navbharat Times, Prabhat Khabar, and other dailies. He has been the editor of popular local Hindi daily “Desh Bandhu”. Now for the last 13 years he has been associated with BBC, Hindi and reporting for it from the region. He has been involved in research, advocacy and action on tribal, agricultural and environmental issues in India particularly in the state of Chhattisgarh. He generally writes on the issues related to marginalized and excluded classes who have been forced to suffer due to forced displacement, migration, poverty and loss of livelihood resources.
Mr. SRP Kalluri, Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range, Chhattisgarh
Mr. RN Das, Superintendent of Police, district Bastar, Chhattisgarh.
Date of Incident:
20th February, 2016.
Place of Incident:
Bastar region of Chhattisgarh after the journalist and HRD went to Jagdalpur city to investigate the matter of forcible eviction of a woman journalist after the police pressure
Details of the Incident:
According to sources, journalist Mr. Alok Prakash Putul, reporting for BBC Hindi had gone to Bastar for a reporting assignment. According to the version posted by Mr. Alok in a BBC Hindi report, on Saturday 20 February 2016, a local villager told him that people are looking for him and “anything can happen.” Before moving into the area he sent a text message to Bastar IG Mr. SRP Kalluri about his visit to the place. Journalist Mr. Alok did not receive any reply from the IG and even from the SP Bastar Mr.R N Das for 2 consecutive days. In the meantime, Mr. Alok continued to file his reports including the events that led to the forcible eviction of journalist of web portal Scroll. In Ms. Malini Subramaniam who had to leave Jagdalpur city in Bastar district on 19th February 2016 with her family due to fear for her and her family. Ms. Malini Subramaniam has been writing consistently on issues of adivasis and displacement, mass sexual violence as well as other human rights violations in Chhattisgarh.
Just after Mr. Alok circulated an update about an alleged encounter in Darbha by the police forces on a WhatsApp group, the police suddenly came into action. IG Bastar Mr. SRP Kalluri sent him a link through a text message about his previous story which said “Your reporting is extremely biased and partisan. I don’t want to waste my time with journalists like you”. After this Mr. Alok also got a message from Mr. RN Das, SP Bastar, who also gave nearly the same answer “I have many other things to do. I have no time for your kind of journalists, who do the biased reporting without consulting with us”.
Sources also say that no one commented on his WhatsApp group but after that he started receiving a number of calls from police officers who wanted to know the source of his information about the encounter which according to the police had never took place. After sometime, he received a message from the village Bade Killepal which said “a group in vehicle was searching for him, please be safe and secure”. While Mr. Alok did not get any assurance of safety and security from the authorities, he had to leave his assignment in Bastar, Chhattisgarh midway. He is one of those journalists from the regional as well as national media who are gradually becoming the regular target of Chhattisgarh police and administration for their reports on human rights abuses by the police against Adivasis.
We,therefore urge you to immediately take necessary steps and ensure:
- An immediate,thorough,transparent,effective and impartial investigation into the above mentioned incident of intimidation and threat to journalist and human rights defender Mr.Alok Prakash Putul;
- Takeimmediateactionagainsttheperpetratorsforthreateningthejournalistandhumanrightsdefenderandusingall provisions of law to ensure that the defender is not harassed or attacked in future;
- Also direct the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to immediately announce a full and thorough investigation into the incident and take urgent steps to ensure the safety of journalists and human rights defenders in Chhattisgarh like Alok Prakash Putul;
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Alok Prakash Putul who is still under risk of further reprisals from the perpetrators and provide are-assurance of not engaging in such acts against HRDs;
- Ensure provision of reparation, compensation,apology to the defender for the psychological sufferings he underwent because of the threats to his life and give this assurance to the NHRC of India in writing immediately and urgently;
Shri A. K. Parashar,
National Focal Point – Human Rights Defenders & Joint Registrar
National Human Rights Commission,
Manav Adhikar Bhawan,
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi – 110 023
Justice Cyriac Joseph,
Acting Chair Person,
National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikar Bhawan, Block-C, GPO Complex,
INA, New Delhi – 110 023
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders,
Mr. Michel Forst
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
66/2, Pan Road, Silom Bang Rak,
Bangkok, 10500 Thailand.
Front Line – The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Second Floor Grattan House
Temple Road , Blackrock
Email : email@example.com
OMCT International Secretariat
PO Box 21
8, rue du Vieux-Billard
1211 Geneva 8
Phone: + 41 22 809 4939
Fax: + 41 22 809 4929
CHHATTISGARH HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Reporters sans frontières
CS 90247, 75083 PARIS CEDEX 02