An RTI journalist was arrested by the police in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh on March 3 for possessing opium and brown sugar and got him to “confess” to the crime. Then, two days later, the cops found that the contraband was planted, leading up to five arrested for setting him up. Two confessional statements in less than 48 hours.
Meanwhile, the family and friends of Rajesh Mishra, a 45-year-old journalist with ‘India-Bol’ news portal, stages protests outside the Jharkhand Assembly, The New Indian Express reported.
“Earlier, we received information that the RTI activist was carrying drugs in the dicky of his bike. After a search, we found opium and brown sugar and we arrested him under the NDPS Act. However, during our investigation we came to know that there may be a possibility that we were wrongly informed and that Mishra was set up by some conspiracy,” Hazaribagh Superintendent of Police Karthik S told the news website.
The police formed a team and quizzed the five culprits after detaining them, he said. “Later, it surfaced in our investigation that the drugs were planted in the motorcycle dicky. We have arrested five persons, including a clerk and a deed writer with the district’s Land and Revenue Department,” he added.
“Vast tracts of land — which is governed under the Tenancy Act — were being sold and the registry of the said land was being done. He had filed an RTI and it had ruffled many persons in the department. a colleague alleged. “He was being coerced… He had previously exposed various illegalities such as encroachment on various pond areas among others through RTI,” one of his colleagues was quoted in the report.
Singh was working on a number of RTI stories on such lands that can’t be sold to general population under the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, but was still sold in complete violation of law.
An FIR against him was registered On March 3 under NDPS Act. The FIR said that Sub Inspector Nishi Kumari was ordered by Sadar DSP Mahesh Prajapati “to reach the Collectorate gate and keep an eye on a specific motorcycle after which Kumar was searched and the drugs were found in his possession.”
Mishra was arrested and sent to judicial custody.
Further, the police got a “confessional statement” from Mishra. “…without any fear or pressure I am accepting my crime knowing that this will be produced in front of the court against me… On March 3, I was passing by the Collectorate when I saw the police and I ran away. I was apprehended by the police and a search was conducted and drugs were recovered….,” the statement in the police records said.
Meanwhile, Mishra’s sister Nutan Mishra told the website, “It was a blatant lie and we knew he was set up. After a conversation with him we came to know that a few police personnel had aimed a pistol at him on March 3, seeing which he ran away. Later, he was taken to the police station and his bike was also taken…All of a sudden after two hours he was informed that he being booked for possession of drugs. The police should have investigated before putting him in jail.”