Media persons protesting against Delhi Police on Saturday supported the version put out by JNU students about being assaulted by the police on Friday evening.
While several hundred irate journalists assembled before the headquarters of Delhi Police on Saturday afternoon and demanded suspension of policemen responsible for manhandling and outraging the modesty of journalists and cameramen on Friday evening, Delhi Police expressed regret and claimed that the JNU long march had turned violent and it was difficult for the police to differentiate between students and journalists.
Media persons contested the claim and shouted ‘Jhooth’, ‘Jhooth’ (That’s a lie). Journalists who were covering the JNU students’ long march maintained that the procession was absolutely peaceful, and it was the police that stopped the march and assaulted the students and journalists without any provocation.
Talking to NH, Neelam Jeena, a journalist said, “JNU students were marching peacefully, it was the Police Personnel who instigated them. I was walking with them and there was no law and order situation, as claimed by the Police.” “The journalists were attacked because they were covering the hostilities unleashed by the Police on the protestor and they feared it would get into the public domain,” she added.
The Delhi Police version is that the JNU students did not have the permission to march beyond a certain distance. “The permission granted to them was for a short march after which they would deliver their speeches, but they carried on and turned hostile,” Delhi Police stated.
The only people who turned hostile on Friday night were the police, journalists held.
The journalists protesting outside the Police HQ in New Delhi demanded for an immediate suspension of the two policemen; one who allegedly molested an Indian Express journalist and the other who manhandled a photojournalist from Hindustan Times, broke his camera and then confiscated it.
Saying that “there is no question of the media staying silent anymore”, veteran journalist Neerja Choudhary told NH, “In my 35 to 40 years of career as a political reporter, I’ve gone home alone after work even at 3am, but I never felt this unsafe ever in my life.”
“But what happened yesterday is serious because the Police, which has a responsibility of defending us because being a media person, we are just doing our duty. In doing so, if the police beat us up, snatches our cameras and there are allegations of molestation of a woman photographer as well, these are serious charges...”
Talking to NH, Anita Chowdhary, a senior journalist said, “evidently, journalists are reaching out wherever something wrong is being done. Police, all the state Police not only Delhi Police, are trying to stop the coverage. “Agar dande chalana aapki duty hai, to photo lena patrakar ki duty hai na bhai,” she exclaimed.
Why has the attacks on media increased over the past few years? What has changed? “The politics to become so bitter, so contentious, it’s very unfortunate for our democracy,” Neerja replied to NH.