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'Don't tarnish the image of the police': Home of Scroll.in contributor attacked in Chhattisgarh

For a month now, Malini Subramaniam, Scroll.in’s contributor from Bastar, has been subjected to intimidation by the police and a local group that claims to be a forum against Naxalism.

Early on Monday morning, around 2.30 am, a motorcycle slowed down near the Jagdalpur home of Malini Subramaniam, who writes from Scroll.in from Bastar, Chhattisgarh. Subramaniam, who was awake, heard the clang of something hitting the metal gate of her house. In the morning light, she saw large stones lying in the porch. The rear glass of her car lay shattered.

Hours before the stones were thrown, around 6 pm on Sunday evening, a group of 20-odd men had gathered outside her house. They shouted slogans attacking her: Naxali Samarthak Bastar Chodo. Malini Subramaniam Mordabad. Naxal supporter, leave Bastar. Death to Malini Subramaniam.

The men urged women from Subramaniam's neighbourbood to join them, alleging that she was supplying arms to Maoists, and could plant bombs in their homes too. They asked the neighbours to throw stones at her home too.

Subramaniam immediately recognised two of the men: Manish Parakh and Sampat Jha. Both were part of another group of approximately 20 men who had visited her house on January 10. They had introduced themselves as members of Samajik Ekta Manch, which they described as a newly formed forum in Jagdalpur town to counter Naxalism in Bastar and support the police in its work. Later, Subramaniam found out that Parakh is the secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Yuva Morcha and that Sampat Jha is a member of the Congress in Jagdalpur.

When they had arrived at her house around 8 pm on January 10, Subramaniam had invited them in, little knowing that they would launch into a tirade against her. “The group immediately, without even taking a seat, began enquiring about my whereabouts and more specifically dwelled on my contributing articles for Scroll.in,” she said.

Reporting rights violations

Over the last year, among other things, Subramaniam has reported on adivasi protests against police atrocities, allegations of mass-scale sexual violence by security forces, and the arrests and alleged torture of journalists by the police. A recent report raised doubts over the veracity of Maoist surrenders, with local people alleging that the police was putting pressure on them and forcibly parading them as surrendered Maoists.

Such reports on human rights violations are rare in a region where the long drawn low-intensity war between government forces and Maoist rebels has imperiled the freedoms of both ordinary residents and journalists. The government has used its advertising clout and draconian laws to silence the Hindi press. The English-language national press barely has any representatives in Bastar.

This made Subramaniam’s reports stand out. With two decades of experience in the development sector, she had travelled widely in the conflict affected areas as the head of the International Committee of Red Cross in Chhattisgarh. After ICRC folded up its operations in 2013, Subramaniam stayed back in Jagdalpur, and was able to travel and bring to light stories that were otherwise not being covered.

Her work made her a target. Before they left her house on January 10, the group of men made clear what they had come for. “They threatened they would be very angry if people were to engage in activities that tarnishes the image of Bastar and the police,” Subramaniam said.

A late-night visit

After they left, Subramaniam emailed me about the visit. Around 11 pm, while I was speaking to her on phone, a police jeep pulled up outside her house. As she stepped out to meet the police personnel from behind the metal gate of her house, I stayed on the phone, listening to the conversation that lasted nearly 40 minutes.

The police team led by the city superintendent Umesh Kashyap claimed they had come for a “verification”, but refused to reveal what had prompted it. They insisted that Subramaniam let them in, but she pointed out that it was very late and politely asked them to come the next morning. “Come in the morning, please, and we can talk over chai,” she told them.

A policewoman then came up with a barrage of questions: what did she do, where was she from, what did she travel to remote areas in Bastar. They wanted to know the name of her father, her husband, her landlord. The questions were routine ‒ nothing that could not wait till the morning.

When she told them she wrote for Scroll.in, the policewoman said “Iss naam ko yahan koi press nahi.” There is no press agency by this name here. Subramaniam explained that she sent her stories to Delhi ‒ a fact that was greeted with great astonishment by the police.

Before they left, Kashyap expressed his annoyance with Subramaniam’s refusal to let them inside, warning her that this would not purport well for the future.

Intimidation by police

The next day, Scroll.in called the district superintendent of police, RN Dash, and asked him what had prompted such a late-night police enquiry. He said he would “look into the matter”. Scroll.in also wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, and the Director of Public Relations, protesting against the late-night police visit.

“It is inexplicable why a journalist was subjected to such late night questioning when there was no justifiable urgency,” said the letter. “We still do not know the purpose of the police visit. It appears aimed at threatening Subramaniam and stopping her from reporting freely in Bastar. We request the intervention of your office to make sure that Subramaniam and other journalists are not subject to intimidation by the police in Bastar.” 

The same day, Subramaniam went to the city police station to submit her identification documents as she had been asked to.

Ten days later, however, the police was back at Subramaniam’s house. This time, the personnel were from the police station of Dharampura, the area where she lives. Subramaniam was away, and her daughter received them. Subramaniam went to the police station and answered the same set of questions she had been asked before, and submitted the same set of documents. A policewoman told her that a senior police officer had asked them to carry out the enquiry.

Later, Subramaniam found out from her neighbours that the police had surveyed her house from their roof. They had tried contacting her domestic staff. Parakh, the BJP Yuva Morcha leader, had also made visits to the neighbourhood, with copies of her articles, spreading word that she was an agent of the Maoists.

Keen to secure Subramaniam’s safety, Scroll.in sent another letter to the Chief Minister. There was no formal acknowledgement of it. Informally, however, a senior official of the government said the matter had been resolved. He added, “Please ask her to be careful”, without spelling out what that meant.

Press freedom under threat

Subramaniam is not the only journalist to face police harassment in Bastar. Last year, two journalists, Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag, were arrested on charges of aiding Maoists. In October, hundreds of journalists organised a rally in the state capital Raipur to protest against their arrests and to demand more protection from the government. After journalists took out another rally in Jagdalpur in December, Chief Minister Raman Singh announced the setting up of a committee of editors that could vet complaints against journalists before the police stepped in.

The committee has still not been formed. Monday morning's events leave no doubt where Chhattisgarh government stands when it comes to the safety of journalists and press freedoms.

After the sloganeering mob left, Parakh, Yuva Morcha member who was part of the mob, sent her images and a press note over the messaging service WhatsApp. The images showed the group burning effigies. The note said those were of Naxalism and Naxal supporters.

Subramaniam called the district superintendent of police from her number. He did not take her calls. She called from another number ‒this time, he took the call but as she began describing the visit of the Samajik Ekta Manch, he disconnected.

On Monday, Subramanian spent more than four hours attempting to get a First Information Report filed against the attackers at the local police station, but the officers refused to file an FIR.

Malini Subramaniam was sent this image depicting an effigy of Naxalites and their supporters being burned.
Malini Subramaniam was sent this image depicting an effigy of Naxalites and their supporters being burned.

This article is free for reproduction without alteration.

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As corporate India changes from strait-jacketed to stylish, here’s how you can stay on-trend

For men and women, tips to make your office style game strong.

Office wear in India tends to be conservative. For men, the staple blue or white shirt and dark trouser arranged in a monotonous assembly line has been a permanent feature of the wardrobe (a tactic shrewdly administered to ensure minimum time is spent shopping). For women, androgynous work wear has been ever reliable and just as dull.

But camouflage is of no use in the corporate jungle anymore. The Indian office is no longer a place for dull, unthinking conformity, it is a place that expects vibrancy in thought and action. With a younger workforce and a greater mix of multinationals and jobs, there is a greater acceptance of edgier trends. Men are stepping away from their blues and greys and women are reshaping their workwear to be more interesting and distinctly feminine. As corporate India is proving its mettle on the global stage and to itself, it’s also growing confident in expressing individuality and style in the formal work environment. From clothing to office décor and fashion accessories to work tools, the workplace is becoming a place to display merit as well as taste.

Work clothes have shed their monochrome and moved into the light of technicolor. Bright colours have steadily become popular as Pantone’s annual colours of the year show us. For the corporate warrior who wants to be stylish here is our pick of trends worth considering.


Statement jacket. A statement jacket is one that doesn’t merely stand out in a crowd, but blows it open for you. How do you recognize one? You’ll know it when you see it. Most statement jackets have a non-traditional color. They could also have subtle prints on them if you want to go funky.

Technicolor socks. Multicolored socks (or hipster socks as they are known in some quarters) peek out every once in a while and brighten things up in the workplace. From polka dots and caricatures to geometric patterns, you can choose a pair to suit your mood or your workplace. A great way of telling people you don’t take fashion rules seriously (except these ones).

Plaid: Well played is well, plaid. Great for your 9-to-5 and even performs well after. Plaids, in shirts and jackets, are perhaps the most versatile tool in the corporate warrior’s armory, and straddle the fine line between formal and casual effectively. They’re also age-resistant meaning a young buck in his twenties can rock them as much as your seasoned forty-plus campaigner. Plaid, though Scottish in origin, has an Indian connection too, in the Madras checks that became popular all over the world after the World War.

Inside collars and cuffs. If you like to keep it classy but still a little edgy, nothing does it like contrast or printed insides of your collar and cuffs. After the work day, when it’s proper to roll up your sleeves, it even adds a touch of evening character.

Coloured Shoes. Alternate your staid blacks and browns with variants like burgundy, light buttery browns and ashen blues. Play with moccasins, tassel loafers and lace-ups. Go beyond leather and try suede and maybe even canvas. But do remember to take a quick course in matching.


Floral prints. Flowers are back (though one could argue that they never went out) and now they’re storming the bastion of your office. Even the traditional Indian paisley is making its way into formal wear. With the prevalence of digital printing, with a little hunting, you’ll even find beautiful florals in watercolour style.

Scarves. The first rule of wearing scarves is to rid yourself of the notion that they are to be worn only in winter. A colourful scarf paired with a monochrome top works wonders. A dozen online videos will teach you to wear it in a dozen ways. Plus, it always comes in handy when the thermostat isn’t to your liking. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wears scarves frequently, and is a great example of how you can use it strikingly.

Pants. Yes. Pants. Experiment with different styles and you’ll be surprised how they can really spruce up a boring look. Silhouette is everything when it comes to pants. Choose from high-waisted, wide legged, pleated to ankle length pants and what not! The best part is offices rarely prescribe silhouettes, so you can always get by with some style even if your workplace demands a uniform.

Houndstooth. The houndstooth pattern is at the sweet intersection between casual and formal and can be worn to make a splash in either occasion. Whether its jackets or a dress or a simple top, a houndstooth pattern is incredibly versatile.

Chic suits. A sharp suit is a must for a modern professional’s wardrobe. And please don’t even look in the direction of black. Pastel colours or even greys with patterns are great options for suits. Uncoordinated suits are also a great option depending on how edgy you want your office attire to be.


It isn’t enough to be well-dressed in the modern workplace. A good professional is known by his or her tools and how they carry it.

Designer laptop sleeves. Your high-precision instrument deserves a cover chosen with as much care. Black Neoprene is out. Pastel monochromes, geometric patterns and bold designs are very much in. Different materials like cotton, leather and even paper are a great option.

Natural fiber or leather bags (yes kill your black synthetic one now). Briefcases are ancient and black messenger bags are done. Go for a color variant or a subtle pattern. Pay attention to the different leather finishes. Adding a few nicely done metal trims can make all the difference. But convenience and ease are top priority. If you travel a lot, get a stylish strolley and thank yourself later.

Commute pack. The urban corporate needs to be productive at all times, or at the very least, needs to be accessible. A modern commute pack should include wireless headphones, a USB battery pack (power bank) and a wire/gadget organisation pack just so that you’re always prepared.

Machine. We’ve all showed off our latest smartphones. Your work machine is way more important. And like in smartphones, a good laptop is no longer only about performance. The specifications must be top-notch but it has also become an expression of your personality. It can up your style quotient and significantly impact your experience.

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Source: Dell

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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