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Journalist and two assistants arrested over book exposing violence against minorities in Orissa State

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the 8 December 2008 arrest of Lenin Kumar Roy, author and editor of the quarterly review "Nishan", in Bhubaneswar, Orissa State, over a book in which he accuses Hindu extremists of waging a campaign of violence against minorities in the Kandhamal district.

Two assistants, Ravi Jena and Dhananjay Lenka, working for Sovan Press, publishers of "Dharma naanre Kandhamalre Raktara Nadi" ("Bloodbath in Kandhamal in the Name of Religion"), were also arrested.

Kumar Roy has been charged with violating Articles 153-A and 295-A of the Indian criminal code punishing "provocative literature likely to disturb peace and communal harmony". Some sections of the book condemn certain Hindu groups for inciting violence against minorities, making Christians sing Hindu religious songs and forcing young non-Hindu women into prostitution.

"These arrests are arbitrary and violate the right of free expression which is guaranteed in India. Lenin Kumar Roy was arrested simply for condemning inter-communal violence while the local government has failed to protect the rights of minorities in Kandhamal district", the worldwide press freedom organisation said, calling for his release and that of his two assistants.

At least 700 copies of the book, which police call "Maoist literature" were seized from the publishers. A bail application made by his lawyer on the day after Kumar Roy's arrest was rejected.

Activist journalists and writers demonstrated on 10 December outside the residence of the governor of Orissa State to protest against the arrests and brandished placards with slogans such as "Stop communalism", "Release Lenin and the others" and "Thinking and writing are not crimes".

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