In the kind of incident that shines a light on the kind of police-state India is fast becoming, a former reporter of the Bombay tabloid Mumbai Mirror has been jailed under the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) for an article that exposed the government railway police (GRP).
In June 2010, Tarakant Dwivedi wrote a lead story in the tabloid owned by The Times of India group under his pen name Akela, on how weapons purchased by the GRP after the 26/11 terror attacks were rotting the armoury due to water leakage in the monsoon.
The news report was backed up with two pictures (shot by Raju Shinde) which showed SLR rifles soaked in water lying on the floor of the armoury, and plastic sheets placed on top of a cupboard containing rifles and pistols at the CST armoury to prevent water from seeping in.
In recognition of his efforts that showed the railway police in all their glory, Dwivedi, who has joined MiD-DaY since his expose, was booked for trespass and arrested under section 3 (1) (a) the OSA.
The relevant section reads:
“Penalties for spying. (1) If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State- (a) approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of, or enters, any prohibited place.”
Bombay’s journalists today took out a march to register their protest at the arrest of the scribe under OSA. Akela has been remanded to three days’ police custody.
“This action smacks of vendetta, and no free press in any democracy should bow to this bullying by the police, which is clearly an effort to muzzle the press…. While the courts may eventually throw out the case, the harassment of going through the ordeal will serve as a deterrent for other journalists and publications.”
Read Dwivedi’s story: Leaks in CST armoury put new anti-terror arms under threat
Also read: You can’t muzzle the truth