India: journalists assaulted in targeted attacks

  • 14 Feb 2024

NUJ joins the International Federation of Journalists in condemning violence against media workers.

On 9 February, journalist Nikhil Wagle's car was attacked, allegedly by workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while on his way to speak at a programme. Attacks occurred following the journalist’s social media post criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former deputy prime minister LK Advani, after Advani was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.

Video footage shows ink, weapons and food thrown at the vehicle causing damage to its windows and body work. Police have launched a First Information Report against party members for their role in the incidents, with senior BJP officials disciplining local activists for their involvement. Wagle has been charged under two First Information Reports, one relating to the alleged defamatory X posts, and the second by police for unauthorised attendance of the programme.

The Indian Journalists Union stressed “Every citizen including a journalist has the right to criticize politician” and that “draconian laws to gag freedom of press and speech is unacceptable in a democracy.”

On 10 February, Jyotiranjan Mohapatra, a Bada Khabar TV reporter, was seriously injured and required 15 stitches to his head following an attack by four unknown motorcyclists. Also the victim of theft, his valuables and cash were stolen in the attack with perpetrators wielding a sword. Mohapatra believes he was targeted due to his reporting; police are investigating the assault and on 12 February arrested three individuals, seizing weapons and bikes used in the attack.

The NUJ urges authorities in India to thoroughly investigate both incidents, condemning journalists’ attacks and threats to media freedom.

The IFJ said:

“Journalists and media workers must be free to express their opinions without fear of attacks, just as law enforcement must ensure that attacks against journalists are subject to thorough investigations. The IFJ demands immediate steps from the authorities to ensure journalists and media personnel are protected, and that sustainable action is taken to address impunity in crimes against journalists and media workers.”

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