Press Club of India condemns attack on journalists in Delhi
The Press Club of India on Tuesday condemned the attack on journalists at Sunday’s “hate speech gathering” at Delhi’s Burari ground, while some of these journalists said they felt frightened with the police having registered an FIR against one of them.
A Press Club statement said the attack “seemingly smacks of pre-conceived nefarious designs of communal hooligans….”
“It is also sad on the part of Delhi police that it remained mute spectator and did not arrest the culprits,” it added.
“Press Club of India demands arrest of these hooligans with communal overtones and judicial inquiry be initiated to unearth the sequence of events leading to barbaric assault on mediapersons.”
The Press Club underscored that “going by the series of attacks on mediapersons in the recent past, it could be inferred that these people are hell-bent on gagging the press in its entirety”.
Seven journalists covering the “Hindu Mahapanchayat” were shoved and pushed, with three Muslims among them being allegedly punched and kicked when the crowd learnt their identity.
The police on Monday registered two FIRs against unnamed attackers and a third against the event’s organiser, Preet Singh, and speakers such as mahant Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati who allegedly delivered hate speeches. No arrests have been made yet.
The Delhi police, who report to the Union home ministry, also registered a fourth FIR — against two Twitter handles, belonging to journalist Meer Faisal who was one of those to have complained of being attacked, and news portal Article 14 which covered the event.
They stand accused, under penal section 505(2), of “content which could incite enmity, hatred, ill-will between two communal groups”. Conviction can bring up to three years in jail.
Officers said Faisal had on Sunday tweeted that he and a fellow journalist were beaten up “by Hindu mob” because of their “Muslim identity”.
Article 14 had tweeted on Sunday: “5 journalists, 4 of them Muslim, 1 on assignment for @Artcile14live, have been taken by police to the Mukherjee 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.”
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 police have denied detaining any journalist.
The FIR has left Faisal too shaken to speak, one of the seven journalists said, while seeking anonymity for himself.
“Instead of arresting the hate mongers and the goons who attacked us, the police are trying to intimidate us by filing a case against one of us. Faisal is too scared,” he said.
“The police have our statements, in which we narrated the sequence of events. It’s shocking they have not yet arrested the goons; instead, they have registered an FIR against Faisal.”
Samar Halarnkar, founder editor of Article 14, said: “I cannot comment now as I am yet to get a copy of the FIR.”
The police have said they had declined permission for Sunday’s event but not explained why the Mahapanchayat was allowed to go on.