Andhra pradesh editor, two reporters get bail (Lead)

June 26th, 2008 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, June 26 (IANS) The editor and two reporters of a Telugu daily, arrested for beating an effigy symbolising a Dalit leader, were granted bail by a court here Thursday. However, the journalists will be released only Friday as the Chanchalguda Central Jail authorities did not receive the court orders by 5.30 p.m.

The court granted unconditional bail to K. Srinivas, editor of Andhra Jyoti. Reporters Vamshi Krishna and T. Srinivas were granted conditional bail.

The court directed the reporters to appear before Jubilee Hills police station once every week.

The Andhra Pradesh government, which had to face the ire of the opposition and the journalists over the arrests, did not oppose the bail petition.

The editor and two reporters were arrested Tuesday night from their office under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. They were charged with beating an effigy symbolising a Dalit leader with footwear during a rally to denounce an attack by a Dalit organisation on their office May 24.

A magistrate Tuesday night remanded the editor and the two reporters to judicial custody till July 8.

Manda Krishna Madiga, leader of Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), which is fighting for classification of Scheduled Caste reservations, had lodged a complaint with the police that his effigy was slapped with footwear by the journalists, thus attracting provisions of the act.

MRPS activists attacked the Telugu daily’s office here to protest against the publication of an article, which described backward classes leaders as ’saleable commodities’.

The arrests evoked strong protests by opposition parties and journalist unions. For the second consecutive day, journalists took out rallies in different parts of the state.

The opposition parties and journalists alleged that the government was trying to stifle the voice of the press. The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) said it would announce its future course of action Friday.

Andhra Jyoti is known for carrying reports critical of the Congress government.

However, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said in New Delhi Thursday that he had no role in the arrests.

He clarified this before eminent journalist Kuldip Nayar who called on him to demand the immediate release of the arrested journalists.

Meanwhile, the state government turned down Krishna Madiga’s demand for the arrest of the newspaper’s managing director V. Radhakrishna. The Dalit leader has warned that the failure to take action against him could create law and order problems.

Home Minister K. Jana Reddy Thursday said no action would be taken against Radhakrishna as there was no evidence against him.

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