Jharkhand Police arrests journalist Rupesh Singh under draconian UAPA

Jharkhand police Sunday detained independent journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh after the nine hours long raid at his home. He has been booked under draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as well as the sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Singh (37), a Jharkhand based independent journalist, has been working as an independent journalist since 2012, writing on Adivasi issues in various media platforms.

He was one of the many Indians who were allegedly spied on by Pegasus software. The Wire, in the Pegasus Project, a global investigation into Israeli spyware Pegasus, had found three mobile numbers belonging to Singh on the list of potential targets for surveillance.

The ten member search team from Saraikela Kharsawan district police, headed by deputy superintendent of police, reached Singh’s house in Ramgarh at 5:25 in the morning and started a massive search inside his house.

According to Singh’s partner, Ipsa Shatakshi, despite their assurance that the processes wouldn’t go longer than half an hour, police searched for nine hours and didn’t disclose that they had an arrest warrant. The family were shown the warrant only five minutes before the arrest. 

As per the warrant, Singh was arrested in connection to first information report (FIR) no 67/21 of the Kandra police station. FIR no 67/21 is the same FIR under which Prashanth Bose (alias Kishan Da), one of the top leaders of the CPI (Maoists) was arrested in November, 2021. 

Rupesh Kumar Singh is being held by the police as of now, which stands to be a blatant violation of the Supreme Court’s directions. In any case, police should first notify  the person concerned prior to making an arrest, which in this case, has reportedly not happened.

Earlier in June, 2019, Singh was arrested by Gaya Police for alleged connections with Maoists. Police had claimed that explosive materials were recovered from his car, which Singh vehemently denied as an attempt to frame him. At that time, too, he was charged under various sections of the IPC as well as the UAPA. Since the Gaya Police failed to file a chargesheet in the case against him, he was granted bail in December, 2019. The case had been at a stand-still since.

Recently Singh in his ground report from Giridih in Jharghand, had reported on how industrial pollution in the area has made local people’s life miserable and led to health disasters. 

Shatakshi alleged that Singh’s pro-people writing has made the government uncomfortable and that is why he was being targeted.

“Is the government afraid that Rupesh is becoming a hero by raising peoples issues, and the government is becoming a villain? Or is the government afraid because he had filed a case about Pegasus in the Supreme Court?” she asked The Wire.