Days after protests by journalists in Bastar division following a threat by Maoists, who accused them of corporate links, the ultras have released a letter and a press note appealing that the protests be stopped while stating that they advocate the freedom of press and none of the journalists will be harmed.
Journalists working in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism in Bastar plan to send a delegation to speak to the Maoists.
On Wednesday, the CPI (Maoist) Dakshin Sub Zonal Bureau issued a letter to the journalists, appealing to stop the protests and saying that any issue would be solved by talking. A press note was issued on Thursday by the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee spokesperson Vikalp. “We will find out the reality of the situation after listening to both sides… Due to technical errors, our meeting might take some time to be organised,” the note read. It stated that journalists working on the ground and for the people are welcome to roam around fearlessly in Dandakaranya.
This is the first time the Maoists have responded to a pushback after threats were issued to journalists.
“Years ago, Maoists had threatened and then killed a journalist. But this time, journalists from Bastar have taken a stand. We are targeted by police and Maoists alike just for doing our work with honesty,” said Ganesh Mishra, among journalists in Bijapur district who were named in the press note released on February 9 by the CPI (Maoist) Dakshin Sub Zonal Bureau.
After Mishra was named in the press note along with Leeladhar Rathi, Farukh Ali and Shubhranshu Chaudhari, journalists from Bastar held a protest in Bijapur’s Gangaloor before holding a meeting in Jagdalpur, where it was decided that a delegation would go to speak to the Maoists.
Mishra, who has been receiving support from journalists and scholars, said, “We will decide our delegation and they will then give us time and place.”
Bastar IG P Sundarraj said the police are prepared to deal with threats. “The incident reflects the growing frustration and madness in the Naxal rank and file. Rattled by the losing ground, drying down of recruitment, disassociation of general mass in recent times, Maoists are thoroughly confused about what to do and what not to. Maoists have fallen prey to the typical ‘if you are not my friend then you are my enemy’ syndrome. This thought and behavior of Naxal leadership would prove to be the final nail in the coffin,” he said.
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