Journalists’ Bodies Condemn Attacks on Scribes in Delhi and Bengaluru
Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : The Print
Journalists’ bodies have condemned the attacks on scribes in Delhi and Bengaluru. While three journalists from a national news magazine were attacked by a mob while reporting on the riots in Delhi on August 11, reporters from multiple organisations were attacked by the city’s police the same day.
In a statement released on Thursday, August 13, The Editors Guild of India condemned the attacks in Delhi and Bengaluru, calling them “reprehensible”. The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) also condemned the “selective targeting” of those covering the riots in North-East Delhi in a statement.
On Tuesday, three journalists with Caravan magazine – Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist – were attacked by a mob in North-East Delhi. They were said to be taking pictures of saffron flags which had been put up in the area when a mob asked them to refrain from doing on. On realising that one of the journalists was Muslim, they attacked the trio over the next hour and a half, threatening them with murder.
The woman journalist is said to have been sexually harassed by a middle-aged man, and has recounted the incident in a statement on the magazine’s website. The journalists were following up on an earlier story about a complainant who had accused Delhi Police officials of assaulting her and her daughter on August 8. An FIR has not been registered in the matter yet.
The same evening, four journalists – from India Today, The News Minute and Suvarna News 24X7 – were attacked by the Bengaluru police while reporting on police action in the aftermath of vandalism and mob violence in the area.
“Both attacks are reprehensible. The freedom of the media to discharge its responsibilities without fear or harassment is an important and indispensable attribute of a functioning democracy. The case of assault on journalists working with The Caravan shows a dangerous trend where communally inspired people can assault and harass journalists with impunity in the presence of an indifferent police. The Bengaluru incident also highlights the failure of the law enforcement agencies in maintaining an environment where the media can function freely and without fear,” the statement by the Editors Guild said.
The body demanded that the police in both cities take cognisance of the matter and take necessary action against the perpetrators.
In their statement, the DUJ said that several journalists have been interrogated in connection with the Delhi Riots and the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests.
“Five months after the February riots no action seems to have been taken against those who attacked journalists at the time although several were injured, including Akash Napa of JK 24X7 TV who suffered a gunshot wound and Arvind Gunasekar of NDTV who lost some teeth. Others who had faced attacks were Saurabh Shukla, Mariam Alvi, Sushil Rathee of NDTV, Runjhun Sharma of News 18, Shivnarayan Purohit of Indian Express, Parvina Purkayastha of Times Now and Akshay Kumar Dongare and Tanushree Pandey of Aaj Tak,” the body said.
The DUJ added that such attacks “threaten the entire journalist community and are attacks on the freedom of the press and democracy.”
“The impunity with which such attacks and targeting is taking place in the national capital is ominous,” it added, while mentioning that India’s rank on the Press Freedom index had fallen two places to 142 out of 180 countries, according to the Reporters Without Borders annual index.
“It is likely to fall further,” it lamented.
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