Arundhati Roy, a well know author, extended her support to adivasi journalist Lingaram Kodopi, who has been arrested by the Chhatisgah police, allegedly for acting a conduit in transferring money between the Maoists and Essar group.
Terming the charges as ‘hallucinogenic accusations’, Roy urged the journalist community to raise their voice for his release.
In a press conference orgainsed at the Press Club of India lawyer Prashant Bhushan, lawyer Vrinda Grover and activist Himanshu Kumar demanded the release of Kodopi. “Lingaram is a trained journalist. After the recent incidents of three villages being burnt and five women being raped he went there and collected testimonies against the atrocities done by police. Is it illegal to bring out the information from Dantewada?” questioned Himanshu Kumar.
Citing the stream of ‘illegal actions’ taken by the police against Kodopi, lawyer Prashant Bhushan claimed, “This is becoming a pattern in Chhatisgarh where people are being booked under wrong allegations and are tortured. If people like Lingaram Kodopi, who want to work for their own people, are forced by the police like this they should not be blamed if tomorrow they pick up arms.”
Kodopi is one of the rare journalists who knows the Gondi language and has been in touch with many senior journalists across channels and newspapers. Suvojit Bagchi from BBC who has worked with Lingaram has an interesting observation to make. He explains, “I was in Maoist camps for five weeks in Bastar last year and we ran series in various networks of BBC. After the initial round of translations by Maoist cadres just to ensure that the translations were genuine I requested Lingaram do a second round of translation for me. Lingaram told me that Maoists had added certain aspects to the villagers’ version. Now why would some one who is a Maoist tell me, that Maoists are not translating correctly? Moreover, the version Linga gave me, which we played, was a far toned down version of what the Maoists gave me. Why a 24 year Gond boy who has been doctrinated by the M-s do that?”
Lingaram Kodopi was arrested on 10 September 2011 alongwith the contractor, B K Lala, working for the Essar group. The police claimed to have recovered Rupees 15 lakh from them. Lala claimed that the money was to be handed over to the Maoists on behalf of the Essar group. The charges slapped on Kodop are under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Chhatisgarh Publis Security Act and sections 122, 124 (A) and 120 (B) of the IPC for criminal conspiracy, sedition and waging war against the state of India.