Laxman Chaudhury

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Police arrested Chaudhury, a correspondent for the Oriya-language Sambad daily, in Mohana, a southern area of eastern Orissa state, for alleged involvement with antigovernment Maoist groups, according to local news reports. His detention was based on a packet of Maoist literature addressed to the journalist and found in the possession of a bus conductor who was arrested the same day, the reports said. Chaudhury denied any knowledge of the packet or having any connection with Maoists.

Chaudhury, 40, was denied bail by two lower courts and charged with criminal conspiracy and sedition, local news reports said. Sedition, which includes inciting hatred against the government through the written word, carries a possible life term, according to the Indian Express.

More than 100 local journalists staged protests the day after the arrest and petitioned local authorities for Chaudhury’s release, news reports said. Maoists, also known as Naxalites, frequently pass materials to journalists in the state as part of their insurgency campaign, reporters said.

Colleagues accused local police of arresting Chaudhury in reprisal for his articles connecting a local police chief to the drug trade, according to news reports. Chaudhury said police made him sign blank papers as part of a “confession,” the Indian Express reported, citing the journalist’s wife, Minati. A petition for bail was before an Orissa court in late year, news reports said.