Pothashang News Service: Imphal, February 26, 2020: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has expressed grave concern over the deliberate targeting and assault of number of media persons covering the widespread violence in the nation’s capital, Delhi since last Sunday.
In the mob violence in North East Delhi not only have media persons been assaulted and footage/photographs on their cell phones deleted and destroyed but worse they have been asked by the attackers to disclose their identity and the community they belong to before letting them off, IJU said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The attempt is clearly to stop the media from carrying out its duty to report and inform the public of the mayhem on the streets, it added.
The IJU demands that journalists be given protection as well as that media houses provide essential insurance coverage to their staff covering the mob violence.
So far, at least 10 cases of media persons were assaulted and harassed by the armed mobs have come to the fore in the ongoing protests between anti and pro Citizenship Amendment Act groups and it was feared there could be many more. Those attacked include NDTV’s journalist Akshay Dongre and Hindustan Times photographer Sanchit Khanna were beaten (on Monday); NDTV journalists Arvind Gunasekar, Saurabh Shukla, Mariyam Alavi, and cameraman Sushil Rathee, Indian Express Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, Hindustan Times Soumya Pillai and Fareeha Iftikaar, Sancit Khanna and journalists of Times Now, JK News and Firstpost.
In majority of these cases the journalists were surrounded, punched, beaten with sticks, heckled, their cell phones taken and pictures and footage deleted and threatened not to report the incidents, before they were allowed to leave, IJU said.
Three of the journalists Saurabh Shukla, Soumya Pillai and Shivnarayan Rajpurohit have shared their shocking harrowing experience wherein it was only after revealing their identity as asked and that they were Hindus did the group of attackers let them leave, but not until their photos, videos on cell phones and notebook were destroyed. Further, no policemen were present at the locations, according to NDTV, it added.
IJU president Geetartha Pathak and secretary general and vice-resident of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Sabina Inderjit said that the government has failed to protect journalists covering incidents of mob violence in the capital.
The attack on journalists was an attack on the freedom of the press said IJU and appealed to all to respect the neutrality of journalists and their rights.
The IJU demands adequate compensation to the journalists injured and for the equipments damaged by the rioters. At the same time, the IJU hailed the journalists for their courage and determination to report the facts under the most trying circumstances.
The death toll in Delhi mob violence has reportedly reached to 20.