Policeman urinated on newsman: Press Council of India sends team to Shamli

A fact-finding team from Press Council of India arrived at Shamli on Saturday to enquire into the assault of yet another newsman by Uttar Pradesh Police.

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Aas Mohd Kaif

Pratap Rathore, a lawyer in Shamli (Western Uttar Pradesh), is convinced that newsmen in the districts are being targeted by the police systematically to make them fall in line. Others agree with him and point out that two newspaper offices in Shamli had also been attacked by mob suspected to have been prompted and encouraged by policemen.

The assault on Amit Sharma on Wednesday, they believe, was part of the plan. Newsmen who pester the police, question illegalities, said Rathore, were being framed in false cases.

He is often seen loitering suspiciously around the Railway tracks. That is one of the charges made in the First Information Report filed by the GRP (Government Railway Police) at Shamli ( Uttar Pradesh) against Amit Sharma.

The 26-year old from Jalalpur village on the road to Muzaffarnagar claims he had received information of the derailment of a freight train and had gone to the spot to collect information.

But the GRP beat him up and detained him in the lock up in the intervening night between Wednesday and Thursday. His family members got to know when several video clips began circulating the next morning on WhatsApp. His mother, he says, is not well and his father is a harassed man. He did not want them to worry on his account. He fobbed them off by saying that he would return home late because of the altercation that reporters had with the police.

GRP is of course part of the state police while the RPF (Railway Protection Force) reports to the Railways. It is the GRP which is responsible for safety and security of passengers and freight while RPF is responsible for Railway property.

Sharma, hailing from a poor household, tutors students to earn a modest amount. He had started reporting for news outlets in the hope of supplementing his earning. But the experience has been far from happy.

Speaking to National Herald in the chamber of his lawyer Pratap Rathore in Shamli, Sharma recalled, “ I had just arrived at the spot when the GRP PS in charge Rakesh Kumar also arrived and hit my arm without any provocation. He hit me so hard that my mobile phone flew out of my grasp and landed several feet away.”

“Surprised, I asked what he was up to at which he began abusing me. Policemen accompanying him then pounced on me and began the assault,” he says, which is borne out by the video clips.

Still in considerable pain Sharma is taking painkillers and claimed that the GRP were upset over an earlier report by him over allowing unauthorised vendors.

The slightly built young man complained that the SHO locked his legs around his neck at the police station and hit his back and waist repeatedly with his arms. “He then urinated on my face before ordering his men to lock me up”, Sharma recalls.

The newsmen in the district offered a dharna on Thursday, forcing authorities to lodge an FIR against the accused policemen.

Sharma has no doubt in his mind that the assault was not just meant to humiliate him but was meant to intimidate other news reporters and ensure that reports critical of the GRP are not filed from the district.

Sharma, his fellow reporters informed, is passionate about his work and is not averse to take ‘risks’ and work hard. When NH met him in his lawyer’s chamber, he was still fuming and angry. “I will not rest till the policemen are sent to jail,” he exclaimed.

The FIR filed against the policemen name Rakesh Kumar and constables Sanjay Kumar, Sunil and Rinku. The FIR was filed after the police initially dragged its feet. But police finally gave in when the controversy snowballed and the newsmen got together to demand appropriate action against errant policemen.

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