Digipub News India Foundation on Monday has condemned in the strongest terms the manhandling and harassment of journalists, especially those identified by their religion, at a Hindu ‘Mahapanchayat’ at Burari in New Delhi.
During a Hindu Mahasabha event on Sunday, five journalists were assaulted by right-wing mobs, including The Hindustan Gazette’s Meer Faisal, The Quint’s principal correspondent Meghnad Bose, photojournalist Mohammad Meherbaan, freelance journalist Arbab Ali and other journalist who wants to remain unnamed.
Around 1.30 pm on Sunday, the police took away these five journalists from the event to the Mukherjee Nagar police station, where they are presently giving their statements.
The police have registered an FIR under sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) of the IPC in relation to this incident, according to reports.
In a statement released on Monday, it said, “Digipub deplores the harassment of journalists and demands that the Delhi police investigate how illegal gathering was allowed in the first place, identify and prosecute those responsible for attacks and how Yati Narsinghanand, previously arrested for threatening Muslims and one of those who made hate speeches against Muslims at the event did so despite being explicitly forbidden to do so by his bail conditions.”
At the event, Yati Narsinghanand, the controversial priest of Dasna Devi temple had reportedly incited the attendees to pick up arms if India gets a Muslim prime minister.
He said 40 percent Hindus will be killed if India were to get a Muslim PM. “This is the future of Hindus. If you want to change this, be a man (mard bano). What is it to be a man? Someone who is armed,” Narsinghanad was quoted as saying.
He was released on bail in another hate speech case against him in February. He was booked for organising the 2021 Haridwar conclave, where hate speeches were delivered against the Muslims.
Meanwhile, Newslaundry’s reporters Shivangi Saxena and Ronak Bhat have registered an FIR for being manhandled under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt).
The News Foundation said that it is deeply suffering to witness a rising trend of physical and other intimidation of journalists merely for doing their jobs. And the most recent event, “it is especially concerning that the journalist were specially targeted by the more because of the religion,” it added.
“In a country where the media are considered the fourth pillar of democracy such criminal behavior which has frequently gone unpunished does not bode well for journalists and journalism in what is supposed to be the world’s largest democracy. Journalists must be allowed to do their jobs without fear of intimidation, threat of violence or religious profiling,” Digipub said.