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NHRC notice to Bengal DGP over detention of scribe covering Sandeshkhali

February 20, 2024 19:05 IST

The National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to the West Bengal's police chief over a complaint alleging that a journalist covering the Sandeshkhali issue was "unlawfully detained," officials said on Tuesday.

IMAGE: Leader of Opposition in West Bengal legislative assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari meets local people of Sandeshkhali after Calcutta high court permits his visit, in North 24 Parganas, February 20, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

The National Human Rights Commission in a statement said the allegations raise a serious issue of violation of human rights and also restriction on the freedom of the press.


The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of the complaint that the journalist of a TV channel was "unlawfully detained" while covering crimes against women in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal on February 19, it said in a statement.

"Allegedly, without any prior notice, the police personnel encircled the victim, assaulted and forcefully took him into illegal custody," the rights panel said.

The complainant, the wife of the journalist, has also alleged that "she has no access to him and is concerned about his well-being."

"She has further submitted that this is an attempt to throttle the media through coercion and intimidation in the state of West Bengal," read the statement.

The NHRC has issued a notice to the director general of police, West Bengal directing him to "submit a report on the matter within two weeks."

The Commission has also asked the DIG (investigation) to find out facts by telephone and submit his findings to the Commission within a week, officials said.

The NHRC, in its statement, also cited a recent observation by Supreme Court, quoting it, "An independent press is vital for the robust functioning of a democratic republic. Its role in a democratic society is crucial for it shines a light on the functioning of the State."

It added, "The press has a duty to speak truth to power, and present citizens with hard facts enabling them to make choices that propel democracy in the right direction. The restriction on the freedom of the press compels citizens to think along the same tangent.

"A homogenised view on issues that range from socio-economic policy to political ideologies would pose grave dangers to democracy," it said.

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