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Multiple attacks on journalists in Delhi communal violence

Multiple attacks on journalists in Delhi communal violence

Several journalists are reporting fom New Delhi that they were assaulted by the mobs while covering the communal violence in the capital city. Many complain that the police were either absent during 24 and 25 February 2020 and those who pass by advised them to leave the area.

A large number of the reporters said that these mobs were Hindus, chanting Jai Sree Ram, vandalising Muslim neighbourhoods and some of the reporters were spared when the mobs idenfitied reporters as Hindus.

Photo-journalist asked to prove religion by taking off pants (25 February 2020)

Journalists covering the communal riots that have broken out in parts of New Delhi were heckled on religious lines on Monday.

The violence in New Delhi followed a recent rally by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra in which he warned Delhi Police to clear the capital of protests against the controversial amendement to a citizenship law. Mishra had made the threat in the presence of police officials.

On Monday, armed men, with their faces covered, entered several of the protest sites in the north-east district of Delhi, including the place where Mishra had held his rally. They unleashed violence and this triggered clashes between the protestors and the supporters of the amended citizenship law that discriminates on the basis of religion. At least four people were killed in the clashes and a police constable who confronted a rioter armed with a gun was shot to death.

Some journalists have complained that they were asked their names when entering the riot-hit areas in the north-east district of Indias capital, New Delhi. A Times of India reporter who entered one such neighbourhood observed rioters who were vandalising shops and hurling petrol bombs inside them. When she tried to capture the incidents on her mobile phone, the mob wanted to snatch her mobile phone away.

Her photojournalist colleague was advised by a group of rioters to smear his forehead with a tilak–a bright mark that would distinguish him as a Hindu. The group was also vandalising the  neighbourhood, inhabited by Muslims. When the photojournalist tried to capture images of them in acts of violence and vandalism, they questioned if he was a Hindu and threatened to take off his pants to check if he was one. The reference appears to be the ritual circumcision performed on Muslim men–such means of identifying religion have been common in communal riots between Hindus and Muslims in India in the past.

Journalist Tanusraa Pande, with Aajtak (part of the India Today group) tweeted that she was held down by 10 men while her colleague was asked to switch off her camera.

A journalist working for The Hindu reported that a rioter threw a helmet at the reporter with chants of “Jai Sree Ram”– a chant common to right-wing Hindus.

UPDATE (26 February 2020)

An Indian Express reporter was let off with minor beating, phone snatched because mob identified him as a Hindu. Read here.

A journalist with a TV channel was shot while covering the riots. Watch here.

Three NDTV journalists were attacked. Read/watch here.

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screenshot: Times of India epaper