Image copyright AFP Image caption Attackers have attacked journalist last month, too
Two leading reporters have been arrested in India, along with two publishers, for allegedly duping large numbers of people to fund a “fraudulent business model”, reports say.
The editor and founder of a magazine in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was among five people detained for a second time.
The arrests came after a week of protests in the state against the previous detention.
The publication, Financial Express, is used by some banks to process debit card transactions.
The Jharkhand police are believed to have arrested scores of people on suspicion of belonging to a “tea party” group or “blue chappal” party (garment).
‘The future of journalism’
Bhim Singh, the former editor of Financial Express, was arrested by the Jharkhand state police, along with the company’s founder Bhagirath Banavar, and five others.
“He had taken more than 4,000 people to devote whatever resources he had, as well as our own staff, money, to a business model which has allegedly cheated them into giving money in the name of consultancy work, to shell companies which were in fact cloned to cheat these people,” said the president of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress party, Pratap Simha.
Police said Singh was suspected of leading a “non-commercial enterprise”.
A day after the first arrest, when he was released on bail, Singh accused the Madhya Pradesh government of targeting journalists in a wave of “political vendetta” and “demonisation”.
“Media is an important part of democracy, and the government is often accused of employing misinformation through fake news campaigns to instigate riots and crisis,” he said in a statement.
“Since coming to power, the prime minister has been facing multiple criticisms that his government has no credibility, and failed to handle protests peacefully.”
Media organizations have reacted strongly to the arrest. “This is the future of journalism in India, where journalists are targeted to muzzle the free press,” read an editorial in the Indian Express.