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New Delhi: Five journalists, including four Muslim journalists, were allegedly beaten up by a right-wing mob during the Hindu Mahapanchyat event organised at Burari on Sunday, April 3. The journalists include freelancers Arbab Ali and Meer Faisal, photojournalist Mohd Meherbaan and The Quint’s principal correspondent Meghnad Bose. The fifth journalist stated that he wants to maintain anonymous, fearing intimidation.
The journalists sought to register a criminal case against their assailants but as of midnight – despite having spent several hours at the Mukherjee Nagar police station – have still not managed to file a First Information Report, one of the reporters told The Wire.
Newslaundry reporters Shivangi and Ronak Bhatt were also allegedly attacked by the mob.
5 journalists, 4 of them Muslim,1 on assignment for @Article14live, have been taken by police to the Mukherji Nagar police station in Delhi after a mob at #Hindu #dharamsansad (for which the police had declined permission) discovered their religion, attacked them & deleted videos
— Article 14 (@Article14live) April 3, 2022
The journalists said that they were on assignment to cover the event when they were attacked by the mob. They added that their equipment was seized and photographs and videos of the event were deleted.
The event was being organised under the banner of the ‘Save India Foundation’ run by Preet Singh, a follower of controversial priest Yati Narsighanand. The organisers had also invited Sudarshan News editor Suresh Chavhanke as one of the chief guests at the ‘Mahapanchayat’.
In a video shared by AA News, Narsinghanand can be seen speaking at the event. In his speech, he goes on to target Muslims and incite Hindus to pick up weapons. He said, “In 20 years, 40% Hindus will be killed. If you want to change this, be a man. A man keeps weapons.”
Hundreds were reportedly present at the site.
Save India foundation had organised a similar event at Jantar Mantar last year, where anti-Muslim hate speech was given. A chargesheet was filed by the Delhi police in connection with the same foundation in November 2021.
Speaking to The Wire, Ali stated, “We were beaten up brutally by the mob, moreover, videos on Meer’s camera were deleted. I felt like we would be lynched. They called us jihadis when they were beating us up. The police somehow managed to take us away and we are at the police station right now.”
They deleted videos in @meerfaisal01’s camera and my phone. The right-wing mob was minutes away from lynching us. The police came and put us in a police van and barely managed to take us away.
— Arbab Ali (@arbabali_jmi) April 3, 2022
The journalists have been taken to Delhi’s Mukharjee Nagar Police station. Two journalists have reportedly also suffered injuries.
Speaking to The Wire, Meherbaan stated, “We are at the police station and we are in distress, and I am on my roza as well.”
Speaking to The Quint, DCP North West Delhi Usha Rangnani says that permission for the Hindu Mahapanchayat event scheduled to be held on Sunday, 3 April, had been denied.
The event is being organised by those behind 2021’s anti-Muslim hate speech event at Jantar Mantar pic.twitter.com/d18l9AR8z4
— Meghnad Bose (@MeghnadBose93) April 2, 2022
DCP North Delhi in a tweet clarified that no reporter has been detained. In a bid to protect themselves, the reporters sat in the police van and due protection was given to the journalists, he said.
A day after the incident, the police have filed a case against Meer Faisal and Article 14 under Section 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes, PTI reported.