A coalition of press freedom and human rights groups is calling for the release of two Indian journalists who have been detained for several months. Somaru Nag, who worked for the newspaper Patrika, was arrested on 16 July 2015 and accused of being a Maoist sympathiser who collaborated with villagers to sabotage road-building equipment. Nag, who covered rural issues such as access to water and electricity, faces charges of banditry, arson and criminal conspiracy.
Santosh Yadav, a freelance journalist who reported on allegations of human rights abuses by the police against tribal communities, was arrested on 29 September 29 2015. He is accused of rioting, criminal conspiracy, and attempted murder. Police also allege that he associated with a terrorist organisation and of “supporting and aiding terrorist groups”. Both men are represented by the same lawyer, Isha Khandelwal, who says they are innocent of all charges.
Both men were detained in Chhattisgarh, one of the fastest-developing states in India and a major source of electricity and steel for the country. The region has been the scene of attacks by Naxalite-Maoist insurgents of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The coalition, headed by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), argues that journalists working in the state find themselves caught between the Maoists and government forces.