“My husband works for the needy day and night and I support him in his noble works. But as a wife, I am in constant fear. I fear that the Chhattisgarh Police is trying to kill my husband," said Priya Jaiswal, the wife of Jitendra Jaiswal, a journalist currently in Raipur central jail.
"I wasn’t informed about his arrest and when I got the news from mediapersons and somehow managed to contact the SP (superintendent of police) of Raipur, I was told that Jitendra’s brother has been communicated about his arrest,” Priya further stated.
Chhattisgarh Police arrested Jitendra Jaiswal under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 151, 107, and 116 as conveyed by them in the notice of arrest sent to Priya Jaiswal. "Jitendra Jaiswal has been arrested on 10 January and will be produced in Raipur court on 10 January," the notice read.
Raipur Police, in a statement to the media, said, "PS Tikrapara, Distt Raipur has intimated Kumar Jitendra Jaiswal family (his brother who is in police deptt in Balrampur). He has been arrested under preventive sections in relation to police family related protest. He and 3 others were produced before magistrate after which they have been admitted to Raipur Central Jail."
In October 2020, another scribe and strong voice for tribal rights in Chhattisgarh, Kamal Shukla, was assaulted outside the police station in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh. Ironically, he was covering a story of another scribe being beaten at the time.
Jitendra’s wife said that she wasn’t informed by the police about the arrest of her husband initially and got the news from the media. Jitendra lives with his wife and two children, aged eight and six years respectively, in Chhattisgarh’s Ambikapur district and is the editor of Bharat Samman.
Akeel Ahmad, an activist and a professor, and a close aide of Jitendra, told The Quint that this is being done under the pressure of the government.
“Jitendra has been very vocal about a lot of issues that point out the lacunae in governance. One such incident was the custodial death of one tribal person in Ambikapur. Jitendra covered it extensively. From then on, he caught the eyes of the officials. Some of them also threatened him,” Ahmad said.
“Recently he was covering the protest by the families of police personal in Chhattisgarh and on 9 January he had done a news piece showing their problems and exposed a big corruption. After that he was picked up and is being kept in jail, even though the sections under which he has been booked are bailable,” he further claimed.
Journalist Kamal Shukla said that the government and chief minister himself had promised to bring a law to protect journalists but till date there hasn't been any progress on that front. He further opined that the state is witnessing assaults on the journalists and voices trying to expose the faults in the governance and this is not right.
Nilesh Mahobia, lawyer of Jitendra Jaiswal, told The Quint: "Jitendra Jaiswal is in Raipur central jail at present under the IPC section 151. I went to meet and talked to him. He was presented in the court on the night of 10 January and was sent to jail from there. He was presented in the SDM (Sub-Divisional Magistrate) court on 11 January. The court has sought investigation report and further process will follow post this report is filed.”
Journalists in Chhattisgarh have been fighting for a law to protect scribes in the state, however, the bill is in the draft stage and hasn't been tabled in the Assembly.