Mediapersons gherao Delhi Police HQ to protest cops' assault on 2 female journos
A large number of journalists belonging to various media organisations staged a protest outside the Police Headquarters in Delhi on Saturday, demanding strict action against police personnel accused of assaulting and molesting two female journalists. The journalists were covering a students' protest near the INA Market on Friday.
Two female journalists filed two separate complaints against Delhi Police personnel, one for molestation and one for physical assault during a JNU march from the university to Parliament organised by Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union and JNU Teachers’ Association.
Aranya Shankar of Indian Express filed a complaint against Delhi Cant SHO Vidyadhar Singh for allegedly shoving her multiple times during the protest. The journalist also alleged that even after identifying herself as a journalist, she was pushed by him while being groped on the chest. The journalist is demanding the suspension of the said Delhi police officer.
Anushree Fadnavis, a photojournalist with Hindustan Times, was also assaulted by female police officials. Fadnavis told Catch, “When the march reached close to INA market, at Sanjay Jheel, the protest got very violent. The police began lathi-charging the protesters. One of the protesters fell onto the ground and the police started beating him mercilessly. I rushed to take a photograph of this and the police started blocking me. They aggressively told to not take photographers to which I said that I was doing my job. One police personnel called the female police to take me away. The female police personnel, snatched my camera and started dragging and beating me away from the scene of violence. They shoved me away past the barricade and refused to give my camera. By this time, all the police personnel had already removed their name tags so I couldn’t identify anyone. So I filed a complaint of physical assault against Delhi police. My camera has still not been returned to me. I was told by Sarojini Nagar SHO that my camera is lost.”
Both the journalists have also accused the police for not converting their complaints into FIRs which they claim is a violation of their rights. Both complaints have been registered at Sarojini Nagar police station.
Delhi Police on Saturday said they were “deeply apologetic” for the attack on two journalists Delhi Police spokesperson Madhur Verma said, “Yesterday’s incident was a very unfortunate one. Our deepest apologies to the media. Our intention wasn’t to obstruct the media from doing its job.”
Verma also addressed the media persons staging a protest outside police headquarters, saying, “The police had to resort to water cannons and lathi charge to stop the violent protesters who broke barricades while marching. At that time, the police could not differentiate between protesters and journalists. It was a misunderstanding.” He also said both the women journalists’ complaints would be investigated.
The JNU protest march was organised to demand the suspension of professor Atul Johri, accused of sexual harassment by multiple students. JNU students and teachers were also protesting the removal of some department heads for not complying with the varsity’s new attendance rules.
As the hundreds of protesting students and teachers from the University marched towards Parliament, the Delhi Police undertook a baton charge and fired water canons on the agitators near the INA Market. Many students were also reportedly hurt during the scuffle with the police though no complaints by protestors have been registered as of now.