Raipur Police has released a multi-point press release over the arrest of journalist Nilesh Sharma. Outlook’s journalist Ashutosh Bhardwaj shared screenshots of the release issued by the Raipur Police. It has been claimed by the police that they have found incriminating material on Sharma’s phone including evidence of blackmailing, pornography and fake news.
Raipur police’s press release today on journalist Nilesh Sharma arrest:— Ashutosh Bhardwaj (@ashubh) March 6, 2022
His ph has porn clips. He was in touch with prostitutes; was chatting in objectionable language with women and men.
His ph has confidential govt documents.
His deeds defamed the holy act of journalism. pic.twitter.com/dZ964RNfbE
Sharma, who was arrested on March 2 under Section 504, 505, 505 (1) (b) and 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code, had applied for bail but it was rejected by the lower court. Sharma’s website is down since his arrest.
Nilesh Sharma- arrested this week & bail denied by the lower court in Chattisgarh.— Vishnu Vardhan Reddy (@SVishnuReddy) March 6, 2022
His website is down since his arrest.
This was the satirical article for which he’s in jail, so much for freedom of speech.
Hi @RahulGandhi, a gentle reminder – Chattisgarh is ruled by Congress. pic.twitter.com/k1nf5OhUYQ
‘Sharma illegally obtained call records’
The Police claimed to have found additional evidence on his phone that they had confiscated from him at the time of the arrest. The Police alleged Sharma gained access to someone’s call records via a Police Officer. As per the law, only investigating agencies can get access to someone’s call records that too after submitting a request with a valid reason. However, in this case, the call records were obtained illegally. The Police Officer who provided the call records is under the scanner as well.
The Police claimed Sharma took money from many people on the pretext of getting work done and there were chats where they have asked him to return the money as the work was not done. The Police added that those people will be questioned during the investigation.
‘He was in touch with prostitutes and forwarded pornographic cotent’
Raipur Police further alleged Sharma had pornographic content on his phone and forwarded it to several people which is an offence under the IT Act. The Police might question those who received pornographic content from Sharma.
The Police alleged he was in contact with prostitutes and used objectionable and indecent language while talking to some women. “Similar chats were also found between Sharma and other men,” the Police claimed.
‘Evidence of fake news found’
The Police alleged they found a chat between Sharma and other people that indicated they were working together with an agenda to spread fake news. “All of them will be questioned,” said the Police.
‘He blackmailed under the guise of journalism’
The Police further alleged Sharma used his position as a journalist to blackmail and intimidate several people. The Police would question the victims later during the investigation.
‘Confidential documents found’
The Police alleged to have found official confidential documents on Sharma’s mobile phone. The Police said such documents can only be obtained with the help of a government officer or employee. Further investigation would be done on how he gained access to such documents.
The arrest of Nilesh Sharma
On March 2, journalist Nilesh Sharma was arrested by Raipur Police in Chhattisgarh for his popular political satire. He was accused of spreading fake news. Sharma, who is the editor of the web portal indiawriters.co.in and print magazine ‘India Writers’, uns a popular series based on political satire in the name of ‘Gharwa Ke Mati’. The series uses fictional characters resonating with the Congress leaders and MLAs in Chhattisgarh.
A little known Congress worker Khilwan Nishad complained to Sharma and accused him of using derogatory language against the Congress leaders of the state. The cyber cell of the Police immediately acted upon the complaint and arrested Sharma late in the night.
Nishad accused the journalist of favouring the BJP and the RSS and said that he is a part of ‘Godi media’. He alleged that through his show ‘Gharwa Ke Mati’, Sharma is deliberately using derogatory language against the Congress leaders. “The portal indiawriters.co.in is spreading negativity and drawing a wedge among the leaders and office bearers of Congress”, he added in the FIR. Nilesh Sharma was produced before a local court and was arrested on Thursday evening.
Notably, the same web portal ran a similar series that was highly critical of the then Raman Singh-led BJP govt. Earlier in the month of October, two journalists of another web portal were arrested for allegedly publishing content against the Congress lawmakers in the state and extorting money from them.