With journalists from multiple organisations subject to violence that has gripped Delhi over the past four days, journalist bodies from India have expressed concern and called on the Union Home Ministry and the capital’s police to ensure their safety.
Organisations including the Press Club of India (PCI), Editors Guild of India and the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) have issued statements.
In a joint statement, the PCI and IWPC has expressed concern regarding the safety of journalists covering the violence in North-East Delhi which began on Sunday, February 23.
“Several of them have been hospitalized. They have been punched and attacked by communal mobs, and police were either absent or have not come to help. Shockingly, mobs were checking religious credentials of journalists,” the statement said.
“A television journalist has sustained gunshot injuries. Another has been hit in the face and has several teeth missing. A woman journalist has also sustained injuries. Television media seem to have been specially targeted,” their statement added.
The PCI and IWPC mention that there was “little doubt” that the attackers “actively sought to prevent videography or photography that may lead to them being identified.” The organisations said that a “lethargic police” and politicians responsible for instigating communal violence in parts of the city cannot “escape blame for attacks on the media.”
Their statement also noted how journalists were assaulted by the police during protests at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on December 15. It added that the police stood mute while “right-wing mobs” which attacked students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University also “heckled and hit journalists”.
Their statement concluded by saying: “We expect the authorities, particularly the police and the Union home ministry, to be alive to democratic sensibilities and ensure that media are not brought under physical assault.”
In a separate statement, the Editors Guild of India said it “expresses serious concern over the manner in which journalists assigned to cover the violence have been targeted for physical attack.” The Guild noted that the attacks on journalists was a “direct assault on press freedom” and said that those responsible for attacking journalists must be “brought to book.”
Their statement urged the Delhi Police to provide protection to journalists reporting on the violence in order to prevent such attacks in the future. It also requested the Home Ministry which controls the Delhi Police, to investigate the incidents and to punish those found to be guilty. “The Home Ministry must also direct Delhi Police to take appropriate action,” it said.
In a first-person account, NewsClick’s Ronak Chhabra wrote about how he sustained a head-injury while reporting on the violence in Maujpur. There have been multiple accounts of journalists across news organisations who were subject to violence which has reportedly claimed 20 lives so far.