A programme host with Mojo TV(which she used to run), Revathi Pogadadandawas arrested at her home on the morning of 12 July, when she covered her arrest in a series of tweets : “Cops at my doorstep! They want to arrest me without a warrant. They tell me am creating a law and order problem!”
The police arrested her in response to a complaint by one of the participants in a discussion programme she hosted in January about a recent court order allowing women to enter a Hindu temple . The guest accused Pogadadanda of insulting him when she defended women’s rights.
Without offering any further explanation, the police say she has been arrested under a 2015 law on the “prevention of atrocities” against “scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.” The police could continue to hold her provisionally for up to 14 days.
“Taking a journalist into police custody on such illogical grounds clearly amounts to arbitrary detention,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We call for Revathi Pogadadanda’s immediate release and an end to all attempts to intimidate her. Her arrest is all the more worrying for coming amid a decline in the past ten days in the situation of Indian journalists, regardless of their speciality.”
Harshad Ahir, the bureau chief of the Gujarat Mitradaily newspaper in Valsad, a city in the western state of Gujarat, was physically attacked in his home on 6 July by the former chief of a village on the edge of the city and two accomplices, who also hit his wife and 18-month-old daughter. The attack was prompted by an article a few days before about the poor execution of government-funded improvements to a lake in the village.
In New Delhi, politics and business reporters discovered last week that the finance ministry has introduced new rules limiting access to the ministry . Contrary to previous practice, no journalist, not even accredited ones, can enter the building without an appointment. The new regulation is widely seen as a deliberate policy decision to restrict the media’s access to state-held information by banning informal contacts with ministry officials.
The Entertainment Journalists’ Guild of India and the Press Club of India received a grotesque legal notice last weekend from lawyers representing Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut. It threatened them with a lawsuit unless they withdraw their “wrongful, immoral, unethical and illegal” support for Justin Rao, a journalist with the Press Trust of Indianews agency who was insulted at length by Ranaut at a recent press conference. In a video, Ranaut also refers to many of the Indian media as “enemies of the nation.”
India is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index , two places lower than in 2018.