Caravan journalist assaulted by police officer in north Delhi

Ahan Penkar says he was detained and kicked in the chest by ACP Ajay Kumar while he was reporting on the alleged rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Model Town.

ByAyush Tiwari
Caravan journalist assaulted by police officer in north Delhi
media shots

A journalist with the Caravan magazine has claimed that he was assaulted by a Delhi police officer at the Model Town police station today.

Ahan Penkar, 23, was reporting on the alleged rape and murder of a minor Dalit girl in the capital’s North district when he was detained and allegedly assaulted by the assistant commissioner of police Ajay Kumar.

Penkar was detained at the police station at around 3 pm and let go only four hours later.

“The ACP kicked me in the chest. I am shaken,” the journalist told Newslaundry over the phone. “He threatened to beat us with a steel rod.”

Penkar was covering a protest by a small group of activists and relatives of the alleged rape victim outside the Model Town police station. They were protesting against the police’s handling of the case: no FIR has been lodged so far because, according to Penkar, the police claim the girl’s death was a suicide and not a murder.

Penkar claimed that he had told police officers that he was a mediaperson before he was detained. “They lifted me by my trousers and took me inside the station. I was forced to delete the videos and photos from my phone,” he said.

The police did not make Penkar sign any papers, he said, but they did take his photographs.

The journalist told Newslaundry that ACP Kumar assaulted two other persons while a constable and two inspectors looked on. “One of them was a Sikh. The ACP took off his turban and beat him. He stepped on the neck of the second man,” Penkar claimed. Kumar, he added, told the protesters that they were wrong about the girl’s death. “He kept insisting that he had enough experience to know that it was a suicide.”

The Sikh man, Ravinder Singh, 22, a Delhi University student, corroborated Penkar's claims. “The ACP was landing kicks and punches on us. We told him he [Penkar] was from the media, don't beat him. He said he would teach the media also a lesson,” Singh told Newslaundry.

Rajveer Kaur, 25, a PhD student at Delhi University, was detained separately with the female protesters at the police station. She claimed that she was pushed around by male police officers, who also misbehaved with the victim’s family. “The girl’s family has faced physical abuse at the hands of the police for the second time today since her death on October 4,” Kaur claimed.

Hartosh Singh Bal, the political editor at Caravan, told Newslaundry that the publication was gathering information on the incident and would file a police complaint. “The journalist was assaulted inside the police station, knowing that this person was a reporter. There is physical evidence of assault on his body,” Bal said, adding that magazine would carry a report on the incident.

Newslaundry reached out to ACP Kumar for comment. “I do not talk to the media,” he said. “Please talk to the DCP. I have no comments.”

An official at the office of the deputy commissioner of police, North West, received Newslaundry’s questions regarding the assault on Penkar over the phone. This story will be updated if a response is received.

This isn’t ACP Kumar’s first brush with notoriety. In December last year, a video went viral purportedly showing Kumar intimidating students in Mukherjee Nagar. In it, he is heard asking students to vacate their rooms without protest. The police later claimed the video was doctored.

In August this year, three journalists working with the Caravan were physically assaulted by residents of Northeast Delhi’s Ghonda area while reporting on the aftermath of February’s communal carnage.

A report released on March 9 by the Committee Against Assault on Journalists, a collective of independent media and civil society groups, recorded 32 instances of assault on journalists in Delhi alone between December 2019 and February 2020.

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