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Assam TV journalist arrested for alleged links to extremists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) in condemning the arrest of television journalist Jaikhlong Brahma on the night of Tuesday September 2, 2014 in Kokrajhar town of Assam state of India.

According to reports, the Assam Police arrested Brahma, who works for a Guwahati-based private news channel News Live, on charges of "providing information to the extremists about the movement of security forces in advance and instigating the cadres of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB - Songbijit) to indulge in violent activities such as killing of innocent persons, sources or informers". Brahma faced the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kokrajhar on Wednesday September 3 and was remanded in custody for five days.

Assam Police spokesman and Deputy Inspector-General of Police Apurba Jibon Barua told The Hindu that police had recovered evidence against the journalist and said he was "voluntarily promoting and knowingly facilitating the violent acts of the banned outfit and compromising national security".

The Journalists Union of Assam (JUA), an affiliate of IJU, has said that the allegations against Brahma are totally false and came as a result of a tussle between the local journalists and police. They allege that Brahma was arrested for an interview with a leader of the NDFB.

Geetartha Pathak, the JUA chairman and the IJU secretary said: "The police have failed to control the violence and ultra groups; and they are now trying to cover up its failure by accusing and booking journalists."

The police also raided the house of Rinai Rasumatari a correspondent of NewsTime TV Channel and issued arrest warrant against him.

The IJU and the JUA has demanded immediate release of Brahma and urged the government to ensure freedom of media and to uphold its right to not to disclose sources of news. The media fraternity in Assam and Brahma's family members protested the arrest and have demanded his unconditional release.

The IFJ condemns the seemingly arbitrary arrest of Jaikhlong Brahma and demands a full and fair investigation in the matter.

Jane Worthington, the deputy director of the IFJ Asia Pacific said: "We demand an immediate and fair investigation into the matter surrounding the alleged interview between police and Brahma. The rights of the media to report are clear in India's constitution and a journalist should not be arrested for simply reporting the information they disseminate."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Indian journalist jailed in Assam state for alleged links to militants

    An arrest warrant has also been issued for Rinoy Basumatary, a reporter at the privately owned NewsTime TV who, along with Brahma and other local journalists, interviewed the NDFB commander in June ... Police raided Basumatary's home in connection with the case, according to The Hoot, a South Asia media watchdog website. The reporter was not home at the time.

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