New Delhi: The Network of Women in Media (NWMI) — an association that seeks to provide a forum for women in media — put out a statement Wednesday condemning an alleged attack on three journalists in Northeast Delhi the day before.
“The physical attack on all the three journalists and the sexual harassment and of the woman journalist, while reporting, are serious assaults and represent a setback to press freedom,” the statement said.
Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh, and a woman journalist (identity withheld) of The Caravan magazine were in Subhash Mohalla in Northeast Delhi’s North Ghonda area “conducting follow-up reporting on a recent article by Singh and Tantray, about a woman complainant in a case related to the Delhi violence”, according to The Caravan.
They had finished taking interviews and were recording some video shots when they were harassed, mugged and manhandled by a hostile group that surrounded them, according to a Newslaundry report on the incident.
Of the three journalists, one was a woman who was “sexually harassed and physically assaulted by the group, including being flashed by a middle-aged man”, the statement said. Meanwhile Singh and Tantray were cornered in a lane of the neighbourhood until around 3.30 pm when the police came.
“The moment Shahid showed his ID card — and I’m saying it with conviction — they started hitting him because he’s Muslim. They didn’t hit me. Had I not been there, they would have thrashed him like anything,” said Singh about his colleague Tantray, according to Newslaundry.
“Despite the fact that press freedom has been recognised as part of freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution, journalists in India are being repeatedly subjected to physical assaults,” the NWMI statement noted.
Among the people who attacked them, one reportedly identified himself as a BJP general secretary, according to The Caravan.
“The incident demonstrates the impunity enjoyed by political groups,” the NWMI statement added and ends with three demands — an FIR that details all relevant sections on physical assault and also sexual harassment, a credible investigation into the incident, and immediate action against the attacking mob.
“Today afternoon some journalists were taking photographs and interviews in the communally sensitive area to which local people objected. Police acted swiftly to pacify the situation. Complaints filed by both sides and being enquired into,” the deputy commissioner of Police (DCP), Northeast Delhi, had tweeted Tuesday evening.
On the claims that there were saffron flags in the area, which the journalists were investigating, the DCP stated, “The allegations of saffron flag on mosque on 5th August is false, mischievous and malicious with an intent to disturb peace in the area. There has been a trend of spreading misinformation to create distrust among communities.”
ThePrint reached DCP Northeast Delhi through phone calls and messages, but received no response until the time of publishing this report.
A report published by the Committee Against Assault of Journalists in March this year revealed there were “32 cases of various types of Assaults on Journalists covering socio-political developments in the capital city of India after the eruption of anti-CAA protests.”