Orissa Governor Urged Upon By ‘Reporters Without Borders’ To Save Journalist Laxman Choudhury From Cooked Up Cases

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik sitting nonchalant over Orissa scribes’ request to save Sambad’s rural reporter Laxman Choudhury from false cases cooked up by the Police, an international body of reporters, Reporters without Borders, has expressed deep concern over havoc wrecked on Freedom of press in Orissa and has, in a communication addressed to the Governor of the State, urged upon him to rise to the occasion.

We reproduce the communication:

H.E. Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare
Governor of Orissa
Raj Bhawan
Bhubaneswar 751 008

Paris, 6 November 2009

Subject: Call for Laxman Choudhury’s release

Dear Governor,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to share with you its deep concern about the fate of reporter Laxman Choudhury of the daily newspaper Sambad, who was arrested on 20 September.

As you probably know, Mr. Choudhury was charged with sedition after being found in possession of Maoist leaflets. He is now waiting to appear before the Orissa high court.

He had received the leaflets like a dozen other journalists. The Maoists send their press releases and leaflets to reporters on a regular basis. They constitute news material and receiving them can under no circumstances be regarded as evidence of Maoist links. For these reasons, we consider that Mr. Choudhury’s arrest by the Gajapati police is arbitrary and unjustifiable, and violates the Indian constitution.

We are afraid he may have been the victim of an act of revenge by local authorities who were alarmed by his revelations. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik promised to a delegation of four journalists that he would order an investigation into the allegations that Mr. Choudhury’s arrest was an act of revenge. But since then we have received no information about this investigation or how far it has advanced.

As the Orissa high court has not issued any ruling in this case, we urge you to use your constitutional authority to ensure that the petition is taken up by the court promptly so that Mr. Choudhury can be released.

I thank you in advance for the attention you give to this request.

Jean-François Julliard

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