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Criminal cases lodged against regional editor of Indian newspaper

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on police in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to withdraw criminal cases lodged against S. Nagesh Kumar, who heads the edition of the nationally circulated English language newspaper The Hindu, published from the state capital of Hyderabad.

The IFJ is informed by affiliates in India that a criminal complaint was lodged against the newspaper and Nagesh Kumar, following the publication on 13 September 2013, of a report on a meeting that the Director-General of Police in Andhra Pradesh, V. Dinesh Reddy, had with the head of a spiritual cult based in Hyderabad.

The criminal complaint was lodged by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Hyderabad city, a subordinate of Dinesh Reddy's, within days, alleging a deliberate intent to bring the police force into disrepute.

Nagesh Kumar has since secured anticipatory bail, providing him with provisional immunity against arrest. This has not prevented a number of visits by the local police to his residence, seemingly with intent to intimidate and harass.

On Saturday, 21 September, a posse of eight police personnel arrived at Nagesh Kumar's residence with the ostensible purpose of serving him a notice to appear at a local police station for inquiries in the criminal case. Three of the policemen reportedly pushed aside a security person and walked into the premises, questioning Nagesh Kumar's eighty-one year old mother on his whereabouts.

The following day, two police constables arrived at Nagesh Kumar's home, with the stated purpose of gathering information on a medical clinic that his wife owns. They left in a hurry when a group of journalists arrived.

Again on Sunday, 22 September, when Nagesh Kumar went to the local police station to file the papers and furnish sureties relevant to the anticipatory bail granted him by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, he was told that the police official in charge of receiving the documents was not available.

The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) a constituent unit of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists' Union (IJU) has protested the police high-handedness. K. Srinivas Reddy, D. Amar and K. Amarnath, all senior officials of the APUWJ, have visited Andhra Pradesh police headquarters to make known their protest.

The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), also a unit of the IJU, has condemned the actions of the Andhra Pradesh police and called on the Press Council of India to intervene in the matter.

The IFJ extends its support and solidarity to all affiliates and colleagues in India in their effort to fight this latest instance of intimidation and harassment.

"We fully endorse the stance taken by our partners that the report that has led to the official furore, was entirely in the public interest", said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

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