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NWMI condemns the Delhi Police assault on photojournalists

NWMI condemns the Delhi Police assault on photojournalists

Delhi Police personnel roughing up photojournalists who were covering protests by Aam Aadmi Party workers in New Delhi on March 26, 2024. Photo courtesy: The Hindu/ ANI

The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) strongly condemns the assault on photojournalists by Delhi Police on March 26, 2024. We are taking this opportunity to also highlight the impunity with which the police in other parts of the country, too, increasingly resort to violence against journalists who are doing their duty by reporting on events to advance the public’s right to information.

The photojournalists were covering the public protests by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers against the arrest of their leader and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal. Since his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21, the party supporters have been protesting, demanding his release.

It is disappointing that the police do not seem to understand that covering political protests is part of the job of journalists. Through available photos and videos of the scene, it is clear that policemen were roughing up media personnel. A senior police officer even grabbed the throat of Arun Thakur from the India Today group and threatened him. Further, Salman Ali of Hindustan, fractured his elbow in the chaos following the police attack.

Has the Delhi Police has forgotten that Freedom of Press [Expression] is a fundamental right as emphasised by the Supreme Court in its many rulings? In a recent judgement passed on on March 7, 2024, Justices AS Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan of the apex court observed, “Now the time has come to enlighten and educate our police machinery on the concept of freedom of speech and expression by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution and the extent of reasonable restraint on their free speech and expression.”

Despite this, media personnel have been regularly at the receiving end of the wrath of the police and other functionaries of the State. In February 2024, two journalists were attacked while covering the farmers’ protests at the Shambhu border in Delhi, and journalists in West Bengal who faced attacks while covering the Sandeshkhali incident received no help from the police present at the location.

In all the above cases, no action has been taken against the perpetrators–policemen or the mob.  If the media personnel are expected to do their job without fear or interference, their safety and wellbeing have to be ensured. Instead, journalists are often the first ones to be attacked during protests and rather than providing them with security to do their work, their movements are restricted and they are even subjected to abuse and assault. It is clear that the police misbehave with impunity because they are backed by the governments concerned.

This cannot continue. We urge the authorities to stop this growing trend by taking action against policemen who do the opposite of their duty by attacking journalists doing their work and thereby send a strong message that such misconduct will not be tolerated.

The Network of Women in Media, India

30 March 2024


© 2024 Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI).

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