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Chhattisgarh Police arrests second journalist in one week: CPJ demands immediate release
The Committee to Protect Journalists yesterday called on Indian authorities to release journalist Deepak Jaiswal, and to cease harassing and jailing journalists for their work. Police arrested Jaiswal, a reporter for the Hindi-language daily Dainadini, in the Bastar region of the central Indian state Chhattisgarh on Saturday. He is at least the second journalist arrested by police in the state in a week.
Reportedly police in the Dantewada district of Bastar, Chhattisgarh, arrested Jaiswal in connection with a complaint a school principal registered seven months ago. Jaiswal is being held on suspicion of trespassing, obstructing public servants from discharging their duties, and assaulting a public servant, after he and Prabhat Singh-a newspaper journalist arrested last week in the state-alleged that teachers helped students at a local school cheat on their examinations. Officials have not yet formally charged Jaiswal. Singh also faces other charges.

"How many more journalists must be arrested, how many more journalists must be hounded by local authorities before Chhattisgarh's top leaders recognize there is a problem?" CPJ Asia Program senior research associate, Sumit Galhotra asked.

According to a release CPJ demanded state authorities to immediately release Deepak Jaiswal and all other journalists they have imprisoned for their work.

A court rejected Jaiswal's bail request on Saturday, Chhattisgarh-based lawyer Isha Khandelwal told CPJ. Khandelwal told CPJ that Jaiswal has denied any wrongdoing.

Jaiswal is the fourth journalist to be arrested in the state in the last nine months, according to CPJ research. Journalists and lawyers told CPJ during a visit to Chhattisgarh this month that there is a sustained campaign to silence critical reporting in parts of the state. The region has been the site of a decades-long conflict between security forces and Maoist groups.

Police did not immediately respond to CPJ's email request for a comment about Jaiswal's case. It was not immediately clear why they had acted on a seven-month-old complaint.

On March 21, Chhattisgarh police arrested Prabhat Singh, a reporter for the Hindi-language daily Patrika. In 2015, Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav on unsubstantiated allegations that they were aligned with Maoists. All three remain in custody.

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