Indian reporter arrested for story on weapons storage

New York, May 20, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists joins with our colleagues in India in condemning the arrest of Tarakant Dwivedi, who writes under the pen name Akela, under India’s Official Secrets Act. According to local media reports, Dwivedi was arrested Tuesday by the Government Railway Police and charged with criminal trespass. He will be held in police custody until Saturday. 

Dwivedi had reported on June 28, 2010, on the poor storage conditions for what local media call “sophisticated weapons” that had been bought by security forces after the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai. More than 50 people died at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus, which is also the area where the weapons are cached. The important rail hub for suburban and long-distance rail traffic was one of the first targets to be hit in the terrorist attacks in which 164 people were killed during a three-day siege in the area around the station.

Dwivedi’s report in the tabloid Mumbai Mirror said the weapons were being stored in a space with a leaky roof, and their ability to function might have been compromised.

“Instead of jailing Tarakant Dwivedi as a criminal, police should be thanking him for revealing a potential security lapse,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “This is a classic case of punishing the messenger for the very important message he has delivered.”

On Thursday, more than 200 journalists and media workers marched in Mumbai to protest Dwivedi’s arrest, according to local media reports.