A sarpanch affiliated to the Congress is among four accused of bid to murder. No arrest yet.
Less than a week after their report on an alleged land grab and diversion of funds by a sarpanch, three journalists were assaulted allegedly with rods and pipes and taken to hospital with fractured arms and legs – at Kalwar area in Rajasthan’s Jaipur on Wednesday.
Sarpanch Trivendra Singh Rajawat alias Dabbu Banna, his brother Surya Pratap, Bubbi and Lokendra Singh have been booked for an alleged attempt to murder and under IPC sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 343 (causing hurt) and 427 (mischief). No arrest has been made.
Ramniwas Choudhary, editor of local daily Hamara Samachar, his reporter colleague Kamal Degda, and Vivek Singh Jadon, who runs the Marudhar Bulletin news channel on YouTube, were admitted to a private hospital following the attack that allegedly involved around 10 people, police said.
A report alleging corruption by the sarpanch.
While the FIR, filed Wednesday on the basis of a complaint by Choudhary, does not state a reason behind the assault, Kalwar SHO Panna Lal Jangid said, “Some people claimed that the sarpanch wanted to usurp land (reserved for a temple) for housing plots. The sarpanch said he did not have anything to do with it, and the coverage by the journalists showed him in poor light.”
In a video message uploaded by Hamara Samachar, one of the injured journalists on Thursday resolved not to be treated until Rajawat and his brother were arrested.
The three men were returning from a school after news coverage when an SUV hit their Swift car in the afternoon, read the FIR. “Around 10-15 people came out of the Scorpio, and attacked the car and us with sticks, rods and pipes…one of them pulled out a gun.”
On May 19, a report in Hamara Samachar alleged diversion of Covid funds by Rajawat. “By misusing his post, Kalwar sarpanch Trivendra Singh Rajawat not only toyed with the Panchayati Raj Act but also diverted the Covid aid given by the government,” read the report.
However, Richa Tomar, DCP of Jaipur West, said, “The journalists are not very well known. They are small-time YouTubers."
Former LJP MLA Ranveer Singh Guda alleged Rajawat is a close aide of state agriculture minister Lalchand Kataria, whose Jhotwara assembly constituency includes Kalwar. “The three journalists were exposing land grab by the minister. They have been facing life threats for some time...to protect the minister, the sarpanch and his henchmen attacked the journalists...the whole administration is trying to protect the minister.”
But DCP Tomar said Kataria was not named in the police complaint by Choudhary.
The Jhotwara MLA could not be reached for comment.
The FIR was filed on the same day of the attack.
Nagaur MP and RLP chief Hanuman Beniwal said he had spoken to the Rajasthan DGP and the Jaipur Commissioner “to take legal action against all the accused”. “Such an attack on journalists is concerning. The RLP condemns the attack,” he wrote on Facebook. RLP leaders also met the injured at the hospital.
BJP state president Satish Poonia demanded immediate arrest of the accused and a law to protect journalists. “In the Congress rule in Rajasthan, attacks against journalists are increasing. I condemn the grievous attack.”
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