ORISSA RIGHTS PANEL SEEKS REPORT ON AUTHOR’S ARREST

The Orissa Human Rights Commission has sought a report within two weeks from the state government on the arrest of a journalist for writing a book on the recent communal violence in Kandhamal district. Lenin Kumar,

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The Orissa Human Rights Commission has sought a report within two weeks from the state government on the arrest of a journalist for writing a book on the recent communal violence in Kandhamal district. Lenin Kumar, editor of the quarterly magazine Nishan, was arrested on December 7 for his book Dharma Nare Kandhamalare Raktara Banya (Flood of blood in Kandhamal in the name of religion) that blames Hindutva groups for the violence.

The commission, led by Justice R.K. Patra, on December 16 sent a communication to the state home department Tuesday after Kumar’s wife Rumita Kundu submitted a petition describing the arrest as illegal and an instance of blatant human rights violation, officials said. Police had termed Kumar’s book as provocative and aimed at disturbing communal harmony. Two others who helped him print and circulate the book are also in a Bhubaneswar jail after their bail pleas were rejected. Police officials say they have seized at least 700 copies of the book from a printing press. Rights activists, journalists and writers have been demanding Kumar’s release. Last week, about 100 protesters staged a sit-in outside the official residence of the Orissa governor in Bhubaneswar.