New Delhi: A journalist arrested in Chhattisgarh over a Whatsapp message has been tortured by the police, his family and lawyer have alleged.
Prabhat Singh, who works with a Hindi daily, was arrested in Dantewada after he allegedly made comments on Whatsapp criticising the police and demanding a law protecting reporters in the region, which has been embroiled in a decades-long Maoist insurgency.
Mr Singh has been charged under the Information Technology Act for allegedly circulating an "insulting message" . On Tuesday, a court sent him to jail till March 31.
The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Chhattisgarh government about the arrest. The Chief Secretary and the police have been asked to respond within two weeks.
Prabhat Singh's brother Vishnu said he was taken away late on Monday by the police, who, he alleged, "beat him up and did not even serve him food."
Mr Singh's lawyer Kshitij Dubey told NDTV that the journalist is injured and needs medical help. The court, he said, has ordered the police to ensure a medical check-up for Mr Singh.
They allege that Prabhat Singh has been arrested on a flimsy charge because he has written articles critical of the police in the Bastar region.
"Prabhat was critical of both the police and the Naxals in his writings," said Kamal Shukla, who is the president of the Dantewada Press Club.
"Singh was booked under IT Act following a complaint by Bijapur-based journalist Santosh Tiwari and other scribes for allegedly posting an insulting message on a Whatsapp group early this month," said Bastar Superintendent of Police RN Dash.
"Prabhat is not a journalist as per our records," the policeman said.
Prabhat Singh's arrest comes soon after two other journalists were arrested and charged with helping Naxals. The Opposition Congress has accused the BJP's Raman Singh government of "suppressing the voice of journalists."