Chhattisgarh Congress government arrests journalist for satirical column

On March 2, Chhattisgarh police arrested a journalist for a satirical article he published about the ruling state government.

Nilesh Sharma, 38, runs a portal and a magazine where he critically comments on the workings and policies of the government.

Arrested in Raipur, the state capital, Sharma was reportedly transferred to Bilaspur prison on March 5, more than one hundred kilometers from his home.

The plaintiff, as reported by various media outlets, is Congress party member Khilawan Nishad, who is believed to be close to both Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and state health minister TS Singhdeo.

Nishad’s complaint reportedly said fictional characters in an article by Sharma in his “Ghurwa Ke Maati” column resembled ministers of state and other congressional leaders.

Based on Nishad’s complaint, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed at Raipur District Civil Lines Police Station on March 2 (Number 133/2022).

The portal run by the journalist is called “Indiawriters.co.in”, which is currently not accessible as the page says it is under maintenance. Sharma also publishes a magazine called Indian writers. His chronicles “Ghurwa Ke Maati” are very popular.

The article for which Sharma was sent to prison talks about Singhdeo’s endless wait to become the chief minister of the state as promised.

In 2018, when the state went to elections, the Congress party came to power. However, chaos soon erupted as supporters of two great leaders – Baghel and Singhdeo – wanted their man to be chief minister. Senior party officials in Delhi suggested a compromise, in which they were both to serve as chief minister for two and a half years each. The order was verbal and given only to calm clashes between party workers.

More than two and a half years have passed since then, but Baghel is still the chief minister of the state.

Supporters of Singhdeo, who comes from a royal background and is the current titular Maharaja of Surguja, have started agitating to have their leader as chief minister. Singhdeo is often referred to as “TS Baba” by his followers.

Sharma’s article was a mockery of this ongoing struggle over the CM chair. The reporter called Singhdeo a “baba”, saying “baba bhole hain” (he’s a simpleton) and Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi “sethani”. In another reference, he referred to Singhdeo as “Jai” from the film’s famous “Jai-Veeru” duo. Sholay.

You can read the article below, as posted by a Twitter user.

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