A group of journalists covering the filing of nomination papers for panchayat polls in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas were assaulted on April 9, The Indian Express reported. This included reporters and cameramen from The Times of India as well as from The Indian Express.
Biplab Mondal, a photojournalist with The Times of India, and others “were attacked badly when covering election nomination process”, Express reported. Not only did all journalists sustain injuries, Mondal’s camera was also snatched. Speaking to Express, Mondal said: “I was forcefully undressed by the ruling party goons. They threatened to click my half-nude pictures and upload them on Facebook.” Mondal added that his only fault was that he was doing his duty.
Another journalist, ETV’s Manas Chattopadhyay, was also thrashed. “A group of people blocked my way. They snatched my mobile and thrashed me. They also hit me my head,” Chattopadhyay was quoted as saying. He has also alleged that all this happened in the police’s presence.
April 9 was the last day of filing nominations for the panchayat polls to be held in May. During this process, BJP and Trinamool Congress workers clashed, resulting six policemen being injured.
Following the attack on journalists, South 24 Paragana’s Media and Journalists’ Welfare Association on Tuesday wrote to the district magistrate and joint police commissioner demanding action.
The International Federation of Journalists has issued a statement condemning the attack on journalists. It says: “Attacks on journalists, forcing them to delete photos and stripping of a journalist is an unacceptable crime and violates journalists’ rights. Journalists have a right to freely report on incidents of public importance and without being intimidated. The IFJ urges the Indian authorities to immediately arrest and punish the attackers.”
A silent protest march was held yesterday in Kolkata condemning the attack.