HRDA condemns attack on Kanker journalists, calls it breach of Constitutional rights

Days after a group of journalists were physically assaulted outside Kotwali police station, the Human Rights organisations released a statement condemning the failings of the police in the incident.


The Human Rights Defender Alert (HRDA) on September 29 condemned the Chhattisgarh local police’s failure to protect a group of journalists including veteran journalist Kamal Shukla from a 3-hour-long assault by a mob outside the Kotwali police station on September 26.

“If journalists are assaulted or live under fear of reporting stories critical of the local administration or politicians, it will be a breach of both the Constitutional rights and international human rights,” said the HRDA in a press release.

The organisation appealed to the National Human Rights Commission to protect the journalists who were targeted for demanding the recognition of their constitutional rights. Accordingly, they made the following demands:

·       Investigation of the alleged nexus of police, local administration and local political leaders for the assault of journalists Kamal Shukla, Santosh Yadav and others and of the role of police in protecting the assailants.

·       Submission of CCTV footages, wireless records, duty records and other necessary information for the date and duration of the incident. This should also include video footage taken by witnesses while the assault was taking place in the streets.

·       Disposal of the fabricated FIR against Kamal Shukla and other journalists as well as assured physical security to Shukla who is still at risk from the perpetrators.

·       Implementation of laws recognised by the Indian government to protect journalists.

A mob of 250-300 people led by well-known Congress leaders physically assaulted around 25 journalists outside the local police station on Saturday. According to one of the survivors, Shukla and his colleague Satish Yadav, who was originally dragged to the station compound, asked the police for help on two occasions but were refused both times. Shukla was even threatened at gun-point during the incident. Earlier, Yadav who reported on corruption in the Kanker municipal corporation was beaten outside the police station until Shukla, a nearby resident, came to help the man.

Later, Shukla said that the police station in-charge stonewalled their attempts to charge the assailants with attempt to murder. Instead he registered a counter complaint alleging that Shukla started the whole thing with verbal abuse and death threats for not paying for an advertisement published in his newspaper.

The HRDA added that the accused people were arrested later in the evening after the organisation contacted the HRD Focal Point, C. S. Mawri and the Joint Registrar Mr. Sunil Arora. Even so, concerned about the manner in which the local police had handled the incident, the organisation questioned in its statement, “Why was the mob of assailants allowed to enter the police station and attack the journalists? Why did the police not register an FIR and arrest them immediately after the assault took place inside the police station? Why did they not allow the journalists to remain inside the police station? Why were the FIRs registered [initially] under bailable sections and not attempt to murder (307 IPC), despite a video showing a serious assault on Mr. Shukla in the streets?”


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