Editor, two reporters of Telugu daily sent to jail

June 25th, 2008 - 2:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, June 25 (IANS) The editor and two reporters of a Telugu daily who were arrested Tuesday night amid high drama were Wednesday sent to jail after a magistrate remanded them to judicial custody for 14 days. K. Srinivas, editor of Andhra Jyoti, and reporters Vamshi Krishna and T. Srinivas were sent to the Chanchalguda Central Jail Wednesday morning after they spent a night at a police station.

They were arrested under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for slapping an effigy symbolising Manda Krishna Madiga, leader of a Dalit organisation, Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS).

The incident took place May 26 during a rally taken out by newspaper employees in protest against the attack on their office by MRPS activists.

The Dalit outfit was protesting against an article published in the daily describing some unnamed leaders belonging to backward classes as ’saleable commodities’.

MRPS leaders had lodged a police complaint alleging that the action of the newspaper staff in slapping an effigy with footwear attracted the provisions of the act.

The offences under the act are non-bailable. If proved guilty, one could be sentenced for six months to five years.

A police team reached the newspaper office around 9 p.m. to arrest the editor and two other journalists. Heated arguments ensued between the journalists and the police officers on whether slapping an effigy attract provisions of the act.

For nearly three hours, other newspaper employees resisted the police.

Police officials defended their action and said the editor was seen standing beside the protesters, while the latter beat up the effigy. They relied on a photo published in the same newspaper.

The journalists raised slogans against Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and challenged the police to arrest all of them.

The managing director of the daily, V. Radakrishna, said the arrests could be made the next morning as the journalists against whom the cases were booked were not going to run away. The police did not relent.

Amid high drama, the police whisked away the editor and two reporters to Jubliee Hills police station. Around midnight they were produced before a magistrate, who remanded them to judicial custody for 14 days.

The arrested journalists were kept at the police station, where a large number of journalists, leaders of journalists’ associations and opposition parties gathered to express solidarity.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP M.V. Mysoora Reddy and Maoist sympathiser and balladeer Gaddar were among those who called on the editor. Mysoora Reddy condemned the police action and alleged that the government was targeting the newspaper for exposing corruption in the government.

Gaddar said there was an “undeclared emergency” in the state as the chief minister was trying to stifle the voice of media.

TDP president and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu accused the government of trying to muzzle the voice of newspapers exposing its misdeeds.

The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) has called for state-wide protests by journalists.

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