Hyderabad: Civil society and opposition party members on Thursday asked state Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy to withdraw the case filed against Tolivelugu journalist Gangi Raghu Ramakrishna, and to also release him from police custody. Calling his arrest “illegal and arbitrary”, they alleged that due process was not followed in his case.
“As you know it is the bounden duty of every journalist to cover the events as they unfold, over which they have no control. They cannot be held responsible for the happenings which they cover while discharging their duties. The due process of law has not been followed in arresting Raghu. He was arrested in violation of the norms laid down by the Supreme Court in DK Baku Vs State of West Bengal (1996),” said the letter that was sent to the DGP.
The letter, undersigned by civil society and human rights activists, and also opposition members, said that the arrest of Raghu pertained to an incident that occurred in Gurrambodu Thanda, Suryapet district, which he covered as a journalist in Raj News channel (he started Tolivelugu later). “When the said case was filed, Raghu was a correspondent in Raj News. And now he is working for Ton Velugu channel,” they pointed out.
The letter said that Raghu was arrested 9:45 a.m. on June 3, by mufti police at a market near his house in Malkajgiri, and that was taken away in a vehicle without a number plate. “However later they served a notice to Gabi Raghu’s wife stating that he was detained at12:45 p.m. In the afternoon he was produced before a magistrate in Huzurnagar at 3 p.m. It took nearly 2:15 minutes to reach Huzurnagar situated at a distance of 190 Kms,” it pointed out.
The civil society group said that Raghu was arrested “for rioting and voluntarily causing hurts of the public servant with deadly weapons and obstructed their legitimate duties”, with regard to the incident which took place on February 7 on the outskirts of Gurrambodu Thanda.
“That day a political party organized a rally and a public meeting about a land dispute in the village. The remand report says that police officers already had information that ‘the iron shed which is located in the disputed land will be damaged.’ Paradoxically, a Joumalist who has nothing to do with the incident is Implicated in the case even
though the police knew that it was planned and executed by the party concerned,” their letter added.
The group requested Mahender Reddy to direct his department to withdraw the case and release Raghu immediately. “We wish to state that you have a responsibility to uphold the Constitution and strengthen rule of law in the state, which has been established after a prolonged struggle,” they concluded.
The letter to the DGP was undersigned by Telangana Jana Samithi leader Prof. M. Kodandaram, Chukka Ramiah, ex-MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, Prof. P. L Vishweshwar Rao, K. Ramachandra Murthy (senior journalist), Prof. Haragopal, K. Srinivas (editor, Andhra Jyothi), R. Akhileshwari (journalist), and others.
Tolivelugu Journalist Raghu Ramakrishna on Thursday was arrested by the Mattampally police by the city police from near his house in Malkajgiri. He was picked up by the cops while he was reportedly out to buy groceries during the lockdown.
Before the news of his arrest, it was first reported that he had been kidnapped. It was later confirmed according to a police statement that he had been taken away by police. A 34-year-old journalist, he has written for Tolivelugu and other media. Ramakrishna is a known critic of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state.
Recently, Raghu Ramakrishna, on his website Tolivelugu.com wrote articles that were reportedly ‘sensational’, sources said. On the other hand, he also regularly interviews Telangana advocates and those who strongly oppose the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, led by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).
The Mattampally police registered a case under section 146,147 and 148 (Rioting), 332 and 333 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) read with 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides relevant sections of the criminal law Amendment Act, 1932.