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India 26 June 2008

Hyderabad newspaper editor arrested in caste-related dispute

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of K. Srinivas, the editor of the Telugu-language daily Andhra Jyothi, and two of his journalists, K. Vamsi and N. Srinivas, on the night of 24 June in the southeastern city of Hyderabad.

The police showed no warrant but said they had evidence of a violation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which punishes physical violence and insults against Dalits (social groups regarded as “untouchable” in the Hindu caste system).

The arrests are linked to an article accusing certain caste organisations of corruption that led to the newspaper’s headquarters being attacked ( on 26 May by members of the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), an organisation that defends Dalits. In the course of the violence, several employees came close to being set on fire after been splashed with petrol.

The newspaper’s staff, accompanied by several journalists organisations, staged a demonstration the next day to demand the punishment of those responsible for the violence. The police said demonstrators burned posters of MRPS president Manda Krishna Madiga during the protest.

After being the target of a violent attack, the newspaper is now the victim of abusive judicial proceedings, Reporters Without Borders said, adding that the federal government should intercede to obtain the journalists’ release.

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