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India 18 December 2008

Journalist Lenin Kumar Roy and two assistants freed on bail

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its relief after journalist and writer Lenin Kumar Roy and two assistants were granted bail by a judge in Bhubaneswar district yesterday, after spending 10 days in custody. He was only released this morning.

“This release is good news but the charges against Roy and the other two should be lifted as quickly as possible,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

One of the journalist’s lawyers, Biswapriya Kanungo, said the judge, J.P. Das, bailed each of the three in the sum of 20,000 rupees (about 295 Euros) and with some conditions attached.

The Orissa Human Rights Commission on 16 December submitted a petition drawn up by the journalist’s wife, Rumita Kundu, to the state’s department for internal affairs which described the arrest of her husband as “illegal” and a human rights violation.


Journalist and two assistants arrested over book exposing violence against minorities in Orissa State

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of Lenin Kumar Roy, author and editor of the quarterly review Nishan, in Bhubaneswar, Orissa State over a book in which he accuses Hindu extremists of waging a campaign of violence against minorities in the Kandhamal district.

Two assistants, Ravi Jena and Dhananjay Lenka, working for Sovan Press, publishers of Dharma naanre Kandhamalre Raktara Nadi (Bloodbath in Kandhamal in the Name of Religion) Sovan Press, were also arrested.

Kumar Roy has been charged with violating Articles 153-A and 295-A of the Indian criminal code punishing "provocative literature likely to disturb peace and communal harmony". Some sections of the book condemn certain Hindu groups for inciting violence against minorities, making Christians sing Hindu religious songs and forcing young non-Hindu women into prostitution.

"These arrests are arbitrary and violate the right of free expression which is guaranteed in India. Lenin Kumar Roy was arrested simply for condemning inter-communal violence while the local government has failed to protect the rights of minorities in Kandhamal district", the worldwide press freedom organisation said, calling for his release and that of his two assistants.

At least 700 copies of the book, which police call "Maoist literature" were seized from the publishers. A bail application made by his lawyer on the day after Kumar Roy’s arrest on 8 December 2008 was rejected.

Activist journalists and writers demonstrated on 10 December outside the residence of the governor of Orissa State to protest against the arrests and brandished placards with slogans such as "Stop communalism", "Release Lenin and the others" and "Thinking and writing are not crimes".

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