The Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) expresses its concern over the unprovoked assault by a Government Railway Police official on a journalist of the Nagaland Page in Dimapur. The reporter, Prasanjit Dutta, was beaten up while on his way home from work. The introduction of a communal angle in the assault further aggravated the seriousness of the incident.
Implicit bias on a communal basis amongst the police, or any government official, is a serious issue not only in Dimapur or Delhi, but around the world, with certain communities—for instance, blacks and Hispanics in America—being routinely subjected to worse treatment by police officials. In India, Delhi Police has created a special cell staffed largely by officials from the Northeast region which helps to tackle such bias within the force. However, there are many different kinds of bias across the country, relating to religion, ethnicity, gender and class, and much more needs to be done to tackle the ill effects of such prejudices in policing.
Nagaland Police acted swiftly to initiate disciplinary action against the erring official, who has also tendered an unconditional apology within 24 hours of the incident. This is to their credit.
Cases of xenophobia and racial profiling relating to the coronavirus pandemic have been reported from various locations, and denounced by many including the Secretary General of the United Nations. We hope that police forces in the country will take steps to sensitise their frontline staff against acting in ways that propagate such behaviours in these stressful times. Journalists are also at the same frontlines of democracy at all times, even during the times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foundation for Media Professionals