India: media worker intimidated, assaulted for investigating corruption schemeEvent
- Initial Date
- Aug 2, 2020
- Event Description
The Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) on October 29, 2020 urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ensure the physical safety of journalist S. K. Lenin his family from corrupt panchayat leaders in Nagaram village of Tamil Nadu.
The organisation requested the Director General of Police (DGP) to initiate an inquiry into the physical and verbal assault on Lenin by Panchayat leader Gopi Krishnan on August 2 whom the journalist had named in his report on corruption in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MNREGA) run by the Union Ministry of Rural Development.
Similarly, they also demanded an inquiry against District Collector Uma Maheshwari for ignoring corrupt activities practiced by local authorities under the MNREGA and for ignoring Lenin’s complaints about the same.
The undeterred journalist approached the local Vadakadu police station instead who arrested Krishnan. However, when nothing was done about the rest of the panchayat members, Lenin chose to go into hiding fearing the political power of those involved.
“Whatever scam they will do, we will share with you, you jobless reporter. You are a human rights activist; you are not a big shot. Even if you give a complaint to the district collector you can do nothing to me nor shake me,” Krishnan had said outside a local shop, while leaving blood marks around Lenin’s neck.
The HRDA condemned the incident as a criminal act that barred journalists and similar Human Rights Defenders from exercising their right to dissent against a public official enshrined within Article 19(a), Freedom of Speech and Expression, of the Indian Constitution.
“If journalists are physically assaulted when they criticise politicians and public officials, seldom journalists will dare to take a stand and the fourth pillar of the democracy will be crushed further,” they said.
On August 1, Lenin collected information about corruption in the MNREGA – a government scheme that aims to help underprivileged people find a job, especially during COVID-19. He said that these jobs are vulnerable to corrupt practices by some panchayat members who show fake accounts to manage salary transfers to people who have not done any work.
Lenin also mentioned that corruption within the MNERGA scheme has been happening at Nagaram village for some time as per panchayat leaders Mr. Ramaiah and Muthuraj Durai.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Death threat
- Intimidation and Threats
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Media freedom
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Media Worker
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 2 August 2020, S K Lenin, media worker, was intimidated, including with death threats, and assaulted by a local governor for investigatinga a local corruption scheme in Puddukottai, India.