Delegation Calls on Prakash Javadekar to Ensure Safety of Journalists Covering Riots

The Union minister agreed with the concerns and assured that he would ensure a “safer atmosphere” for the journalists.

New Delhi: A delegation of journalists represented by the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Club of India, and the Press Association on Thursday called on the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar requesting his intervention in what has turned out to be sustained attacks on reporters and camerapersons covering the north east Delhi riots.

The team submitted a memorandum to the Union minister, who agreed with the concerns of the former and assured that he would ensure a “safer atmosphere” for the journalists.

Also read: ‘Watched Crowds Swell Around Him Live on TV,’ Says Father of Journalist Who Was Shot

The memorandum, signed by Indian Women’s Press Corps general secretary Vineeta Pandey, Press Club of India vice-president Shahid Abbas and Press Association treasurer Santosh Thakur, highlighted that:

“…it is of the utmost importance that the media is permitted to do its work in an atmosphere conducive to accurate and in-depth reporting, no matter how challenging the circumstances…”

Highlighting the fact that journalists have been shot, heckled, attacked and beaten with bare hands and weapons, the memorandum focuses on the role of the Delhi Police and where the forces were found wanting.

“The police was found wanting in rendering assistance to the assaulted journalists at the violence infested areas even though they could have prevented mobs from attacking the media persons…

“We also urge the leadership of Delhi Police to sensitise the force to the requirement of fair journalism for the sake of a democratic society.”

The Wire, on February 27, published an interview with Ram Prakash Napa, the father of journalist Akash Napa who was shot while covering the riots in Bhajanpura. While Akash remains critical, his family members (many of whom have been or are journalists as well) recounted to Srishti Srivastava, how they saw the crowds swell around him on live television.

In the days through which the violence in Delhi’s north east have escalated into what is now being understood as communally targeted attacks on anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters, journalists have been among those injured – some quite seriously.

Also read: Delhi Riots: Journalists Shot at, Punched, Asked to Prove Religion

NDTV reporter Arvind Gunasekar lost three teeth in a barrage of blows and was reportedly about to be hit by a stick when cameraperson Saurabh Shukla intervened and ended up taking the blow instead. Reporter Mariyam Alavi and cameraperson Sushil Rathee too were injured after having been attacked by a mob in a different part of north east Delhi.

Times of India carried a firsthand account by photojournalist Anindya Chattopadhyay, who was asked to prove by raging mobs if he was a Hindu at Maujpur.

Scroll.in reported that its correspondents “saw supporters of the law threatening journalists and checking their phones for videos and deleting them.”

Several journalists, including The Wire’s own Naomi Barton and Avichal Dubey, recounted how they have been interrupted at work in the course of covering the riots with questions on their religion.

The Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and the Editors Guild had expressed serious concern on the issue earlier as well. The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) has also issued a statement saying “robust and proactive policies and laws” are required to protect the press.