Punjab Police Beat Senior Journalist, Reporter Booked for Astrology Story on Minister

Interestingly, these incidents took place at a time when the Punjab Police is on an image making spree and had been delivering birthday cakes to people at their doorsteps in the COVID-19 lockdown.

Jalandhar: A Mohali-based journalist was brutally beaten by two policemen on Friday while he had gone to cover the meeting of two groups at a local gurdwara, leaving him with severe injuries. Photographs and video footage of the injured journalist went viral on social media, prompting senior officials to take action.

In an unrelated case, another journalist has been booked under serious sections of the law for writing a story about a minister’s fondness for astrological predictions.

Major Singh Punjabi, a journalist with the Rozana Pehredar newspaper was mercilessly beaten by the two assistant sub inspectors (ASIs) of the Mohali police station phase-1 at Gurdwara Kalgidhar Sahib Singh Sabha situated in Phase-4, Mohali. The incident took place at around 1.30 pm on May 22.

Major Singh, who is currently admitted at Civil Hospital, Mohali said that despite informing the two policemen that he was a journalist, they forcibly pushed him in a private vehicle bearing a Haryana number and took him to the phase-1 police station at Mohali.

“Before, I could even step out of the vehicle, ASI Om Prakash started beating me with a stick. The duo dragged me to the lockup, where I was not only tortured, abused and humiliated but they also pushed away my turban. My repeated pleas not to touch my turban went unheard and they even threw my ‘kangha’ (wooden comb for the hair, part of the five symbols of Sikhism),” he said.

Major Singh said that on May 22 afternoon he had gone to attend a meeting of two groups on the gurdwara premises. “When I reached, I saw around 20 to 25 men from both the groups inside a room in the gurdwara. After a few minutes, I noticed ASI Om Prakash and Amar Nath bringing one Jaspal Singh Nami out of the room. Noticing the police action, I started recording the incident on my mobile phone and tried to speak to Jaspal. However, before I could talk, Jaspal managed to flee from the clutches of the police, though he was caught later. Before the cops could push him inside the vehicle, he fled once again, after which they started abusing and beating me and brought me to the police station. I would have died had SHO Mohali phase-1 Mansoor Singh not come to rescue me,” he said,

He also said that the Mohali police was yet to register an FIR in this case. “My medico-legal report  was done. I have sustained serious injuries on my left leg, both arms and back.”

Earlier, SP (City) Harvinder Singh Virk said that both the ASIs have been suspended and a departmental inquiry ordered but Major Singh said that he was being asked by the police to ‘move on’. “This is an attack on the freedom of press and if a journalist is not safe, one can well imagine the plight of stringers and of the common man. The police should register an FIR and take stringent action against the guilty officers”, he added.

Deputy commissioner Mohali Girish Dayalan also said that he has asked SDM Mohali Jagdeep Sehgal to conduct an independent magisterial inquiry and a report would be presented within three days. Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Press Club and Chandigarh Journalists Union president Balwinder Singh Jammu and others condemned the attack on the journalist and sought action.

Earlier on May 22, another reporter from the Punjabi Jagran newspaper, Jai Singh Chibber, was also booked by Chamkaur Sahib police for writing a news report about an unnamed Congress minister for following the suggestions of astrologers. The police registered a case against Chibber under Sections 188 and 505 of the IPC (disobeying a public official and making statements which incite the commission of an offence), and Section 67A of the IT Act (obscenity).

Also on Friday, a PTC Channel reporter, Hussan Lal, was also attacked by a Congress sarpanch at a near Bhogpur, Jalandhar district for reporting about a fight.