The Network of Women in Media India (NWMI) has expressed concern over the threats to kill the lone tribal woman journalist Pushpa Rocade in Bijapur, Bastar, Chhattisgarh.
The media organization has also condemned all attempts to intimidate and threaten journalists to stop them from doing their work.
NWMI issued a statement saying that Pushpa had received death threats on 13 December 2020 which was allegedly signed by the Maoist South Bastar Palmed Area Committee.
This threatening letter was planted on a tree near Puskunta village in Bijapur district. After this, on January 28, 2021, Pushpa was once again threatened to be killed, this time also on a hand written note. It was also allegedly given by the Maoist faction.
The note accused Pushpa of being a police informer, stating that she gives information to the police about the protest rallies.
When Pushpa sought clarification on this from the Maoists, he did not get any reply but neither was it denied or withdrawn by the Maoist committee.
According to the report of New Zealand, Pushpa Rocade, the only female reporter from Bastar, was a reporter in the ‘Prakhar Samachar’ newspaper but lost her job after the Bijapur edition closed.
The report published in Hindustan Times in 2018 stated that she is the only tribal woman journalist of Bastar.
Pushpa was also the victim of an accident and her financial condition deteriorated due to medical bills. Pushpa, working as a supervisor in road construction work in a remote village, was constantly reporting for an e-paper and this threat issued in December 2020 was related to his work.
“In view of his reporting on people-related issues, the allegation that he is a police informer is not just mischievous but also dangerous in a polarized conflict zone like Chhattisgarh, where Maoists have brutalized people for being police informers,” Punishment is given.
According to the 2013 report of NDTV, suspected armed Maoists brutally murdered journalist Sai Reddy at a weekly market in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district.
This attack happened in broad daylight. Another journalist Nemichand Jain was also murdered in 2013 by Maoists.
The statement said that the Maoists also killed villagers and contractors on suspicion of being police informers. One such incident took place in Chhattisgarh on 26 January 2021.
In reference to the law for the protection of journalists in the state, this statement said, ‘The controversial draft for the protection of journalists in Chhattisgarh was finalized in December 2020, with the aim of allowing journalists to work without fear and without pressure. But for the local women journalists like Pushpa Rocade, who live and work in the same area, it is like a distant penny.
NWMI said that he stands in solidarity with Pushpa Rocade and supports his commitment to tell untold stories of Bastar.
In this statement, media houses of Chhattisgarh were also urged to do collective work in every way to protect their journalists and strengthen their economic condition and give them employment security so that they can work without any fear or favor.