Scores of journalists from various media organisations staged a protest outside the Delhi Police headquarters here Saturday, demanding strict action against the police personnel accused of manhandling and molesting media persons during their crack-down on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students and teachers on Friday.
In a joint statement, leading journalists’ bodies including the Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association and Federation of Press Clubs in India, condemned the incident and pressed for immediate action against the guilty police personnel.
To break up a march of the JNU students and teachers, the police had allegedly used water cannon and even lathi charge in the national capital on Friday. Some police personnel were alleged to have even targeted reporters and photographers covering the protest march. They also allegedly snatched or damaged their phones and cameras.
A group of police personnel allegedly roughed up a photojournalist with a leading newspaper and snatched her camera. A female reporter with another national daily was allegedly molested by an SHO. She has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against him.
Journalists on Saturday gathered outside the Delhi Police headquarters to protest against the guilty police personnel and demand strict action against them.
A protesting journalist reportedly said, “What happened yesterday was not only shocking but scary. It shows the lack of discipline among police personnel who enforce law and order in the city… It is especially worse for women reporters.”
Special Commissioner of Police Dependra Pathak addressed the protesters, reportedly saying, “An independent inquiry has been initiated by the vigilance unit. It will be completed in two-three days and action will be taken accordingly.”
He, however, did not reply to the question why FIRs had not been registered in this matter so far.
Delhi Police spokesman Madhur Verma issued a statement, saying “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. In the confusion, some female police personnel mistook the photojournalist as a protestor.”
He added, “We have taken strong cognizance of the matter and an inquiry has been ordered”.
Hundreds of JNU students and teachers had participated in a “long march” from the university campus to the Parliament complex Friday, demanding academic freedom as well as accessible and equitable education, and action against a university professor Atul Johri facing charges of sexual harassment levelled by his several female students.
The Delhi police personnel had however stopped their march on the way with barricades and even resorted to the use of water cannons and lathi-charge against them. In the ensuing clashes, a number of students, teachers and police personnel were reported to have been injured.