Three journalists working for The Caravan were attacked by a mob in North East Delhi’s North Ghonda area. Journalists were attacked by both police and the mob in Bengaluru while covering violence in Banaswadi.
Two separate incidents of violence against journalists were recorded on August 11, 2020 in Delhi and Bengaluru respectively. Contributor to The Caravan Prabhijit Singh, Assistant Photo Editor, Shahid Tantray, and a female journalist working for the magazine were attacked by a mob in north-east Delhi’s North Ghonda neighbourhood. The journalists were reporting on communal tensions in the area following the August 5 Bhoomi Poojan in Ayodhya.
The journalists were attacked by around 100 people and were asked to delete their recordings, which included statements of Muslim families living in the area. Shahid Tantray, was targeted after the mob realised he was a Muslim based on his identity card. The woman journalist was physically and sexually assaulted. The incident happened when the journalists were shooting footage of saffron flags erected on a house in a narrow lane in Subash Mohalla. According to the journalists, passers-by, allegedly belonging to the BJP, objected to the filming and despite the journalists requesting them to speak to them and record their concerns, began insulting them. They noted that the crowd got more aggressive after realising that Tantray was a Muslim.
The journalists claimed that the police, who were called by people in the crowd, did not help in controlling the violence against them. The journalists, who had been covering consistently on the North-East Delhi riots in February, were in the area to speak to Muslim women and their families who had allegedly been physically and sexually harassed by the police at the Bhajanpura police station on the night of August 8. The women had gone to the police station to record complaints of alleged insults and communalising atmosphere by Hindu residents in the area on the eve of the Bhoomi poojan in Ayodhya.
In a separate incident of violence in Bengaluru, journalists belonging to The News Minute, India Today group, and Suvarna News 24×7 were attacked by policemen and the mob, when they went to cover the violence that broke out in Banaswadi on the night of August 11. According to India Today group journalist Nolan Pinto, he suffered injuries to his head and The News Minute’s Prajwal Bhat was hit on the thigh by policemen who were trying to disperse the journalists covering the violence, late in the evening. Ravi Kumar PS and his colleagues, Pradeep KM and Rudresh BV, at Suvarna News 24×7 were attacked by members of the mob and their equipment was destroyed when they went to cover the violence. The violence began after a social media post derogatory of the Prophet Muhammad was allegedly posted by Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy’s nephew Naveen.
The attack on the journalists was condemned by the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Editors’ Guild of India. Terming the attacks in the national capital as ‘ominous’, the Delhi Union of Journalists said that ‘such attacks threaten the entire journalist community and are attacks on the freedom of the press and democracy.’ The Editors’ Guild called both the attacks ‘reprehensible’ and called out the ‘indifferent’ attitude of the law enforcement agencies in the Delhi incident and its subsequent ‘failure’ in discharging its responsibilities in the Bengaluru incident.
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