Independent journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh, who had the Supreme Court after his name figured in the alleged Pegasus snooping list, has been arrested and charged in a case lodged last year against top Maoist leaders.
While police alleged that Singh used to gather funds for Maoists, his family and several journalists said he is being targeted for reporting on issues linked to human rights violations and marginalised communities.
Singh has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sections of the IPC in the case filed against top Maoist leaders in Jharkhand’s Saraikela district, including Prashant Bose alias Kishanda of the CPI (Maoist), according to media .
The journalist was also arrested by Gaya police in 2019 for alleged Maoist links but was granted bail with the police unable to file a chargesheet, according to the . Singh had called it a false case to frame him.
Singh’s wife Ipsa Shatakshi – who is an activist working on tribal issues and was also in the alleged Pegasus snooping list – told the Wire that the Kharsawan district police searched the couple’s house in Ramgarh for nine hours. She said a bed sheet, a nine-page notebook, a tax invoice for a motorcycle, two mobile phones, one hard-disk, the retail invoice of a car and two laptops were seized.
However, Shatakshi alleged that the police “sent us outside the house and locked the door from the inside” for “around half an hour” during the search.
The activist said her husband is being targeted for his work. “He had recently visited Giridih and reported on how industrial pollution has made local people’s life miserable…He tweeted a video of a local girl who has developed a tumour and is unable even to move…The video had gone viral. Some doctors and (actor) Sonu Sood’s team reacted to the tweet and offered help to the girl.”
Several journalists also expressed their support for Singh on social media.
“Rupesh Kumar Singh's last story on morbidity in villages due to industrial pollutants is the kind of ground reporting that newsrooms often ignore. What we cannot ignore anymore is the state surveillance & incarceration of journalists doing critical work on human rights violations,” independent journalist Shalini Nair tweeted.
“If you care about freedom of speech pls support journalists who do painstaking work on the ground without publicity, without making themselves the focus of their reports,” independent journalist Neha Dixit tweeted while naming Singh and other journalists such as Mohammed Zubair and Siddique Kappan.