On the evening of February 7, a group called the Samajik Ekta Manch demonstrated outside my house, taking objection to my reports in Scroll.in and warning me not to tarnish the image of the police. Hours later, around 2.30 am, I heard a motorcycle enter my neighbourhood. Stones were thrown and the rear window of my car was shattered.
It took the police two days to register a First Information Report. The investigating officer threatened the women in my neighbourhood who had given witness statements in support of my complaint. Samajik Ekta Manch held street rallies asking for my arrest. As reported by The Hoot and Caravan, the Manch has close links with the police.
After an editor of Scroll.in met Chief Minister Raman Singh and urged him to intervene, the Inspector General of Bastar SRP Kalluri and district superintendent of police RN Dash visited my house and assured me that the investigation would be fair and my family would be safe. They told me I could continue my work without any fear.
Despite that, the Samajik Ekta Manch continued to campaign against me, creating an atmosphere of insecurity. The police also wrote a letter to my landlord making spurious claims about me, summoning him from Raipur to Jagdalpur.
On Wednesday, the police detained my domestic worker and put her through several hours of interrogation, accusing her of throwing stones at my house. It became clear that in the guise of investigating my complaint, the police was going after those associated with me. The last straw came when my landlord served me an eviction notice on Thursday afternoon. By evening, the Samajik Ekta Manch was staging another protest outside the house of my lawyer. Fearing for my safety, the editors of Scroll.in asked me to leave Jagdalpur.
It is heartbreaking to have to abruptly leave the place I have called home for the last five years. Despite reassurances from the state's chief minister, it is evident that journalists are still being threatened and intimidated in Bastar.
At a time when the nation is outraged about attacks on journalists, one would expect the police to do its utmost to protect citizens and members of the press no matter where they are. Instead of offering this protection, the Jagdalpur police has contributed to a situation where I was so fearful that I felt compelled to uproot my family and leave my home.
-Malini Subramaniam (Journalist, Scroll.in)
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