Hindu extremists’ attack on journalists: Digital media group holds Modi govt accountable

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Digipub, a union of digital media outlets in India, has condemned attacks on journalists at a Hindu Mahapanchayat and demanded intervention of Indian Home Minister Amit Shah to ensure action against the culprits.

During a press conference held at Press Club of India in New Delhi, the group expressed solidarity with the victims.

On Sunday, a Hindutva mob assaulted a group of journalists, including four Muslim, who had gone to the venue of the Mahapanchayat in Delhi’s Burari area to cover the event. In the entire episode, the role of the Delhi Police, whose job it is to protect the victims, came under suspicion. While the police filed two cases against those accused of attacking the journalists, they didn’t spare a victim either. They, reportedly, booked Meer Faisal, a journalist associated with news outlet Article 14, over his tweets about the attack. He was charged of making “provocative statements”.

Umkant Lakhera, the president of the Press Club, while condemning the Burari incident, said the government should be made answerable for these kinds of incidents. “We are not doing politics. We are just doing our job as journalists,” he said.

Hartosh Singh Bal, editor of Caravan magazine, observed that there is a witch-hunt against Muslims. He said they are being singled out from every sector for verbal and physical attacks. They (the rightwing Hindus), he said, don’t want to see a Muslim working as a journalist in this country.

Abhinandhan Sekhri from News Laundry said Home Minister Amit Shah does not feel his responsibility towards the security of journalists. He said Digipub will send a memorandum to him in this regard.

Jayshankar Gupta, a journalist, said Balli and Burari incidents are signs of the future of journalism in India. He said such incidents run counter to the constitution and are an assault on the secular character of the country.

The Digipub announced that it would provide legal assistance to the young working journalists who lack a support system. “These attacks are very traumatic,” said Rohit Khanna of the Quint, a founding member of the association. Asserting that such incidents are unacceptable, he said the Delhi Police owes an answer to the public as to how such an illegal programme was allowed to take place without permission.

The journalists who spoke at the press conference also took exception to the arrest of three journalists in Ballia city of Uttar Pradesh for publishing a story on question paper leak.

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