Press Statement

India: Journalists injured, one arrested in eastern states

21 Feb, 2024

Two journalists have sustained serious injuries after being attacked by a mob during their coverage of the recovery of a missing woman’s body in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar, India, while Republic Bangla journalist Santu Pan was arrested while broadcasting. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates, the National Union of Journalists – India (NUJ-I), and the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), urge authorities to ensure the safety of journalists covering protests and investigate the attack swiftly and transparently.

According to media reports, police recovered the body of a woman outside the Eastern city of Bhagalpur in Bihar, two days after she had been reported missing after failing to return home from work. In response to the news, the crowd of people began to attack the, allegedly setting a police vehicle on fire, and causing serious injuries to two media personnel. The victim’s family have accused authorities of failing to perform their duties.

On February 20, Nawgachhia Police registered a case against 42 named and 250 unidentified people concerning the alleged attack. The case is currently ongoing, with no update as to the journalists’ status available.

In a separate incident, Republic Bangla journalist Santu Pan was arrested in West Bengal while broadcasting a report on the reported breakdown of law and order and rise in sexual assault cases in the southeastern city of Sandeshkhali late on February 19. Reportedly, the journalist was arrested following the filing of a First Information Report, claiming the journalist had broken into a woman’s home. On February 20, the Basirhat Superintendent of Police upheld the detention, granting police a three-day judicial custody.

The journalist’s family has submitted a complaint to the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), urging authorities to secure his immediate release, investigate the arrest and assault of the reporter, and ensure a commitment to press freedom in West Bengal is upheld. The NHRC has subsequently sent a notice to West Bengal police, raising allegations of the journalist’s illegal detention.

The NUJ-I said: “Such attacks on journalists not only impede the freedom of press but also pose a threat to democracy. It is essential for the government to take immediate action and pass a protection act for journalists to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. The NUJ India stands in solidarity with the affected journalists and demands justice for them.”

The IJU said: “Such attacks on journalists covering news is a direct assault on press freedom. The IJU is also concerned about the increasing number of such attacks across the country, particularly in Bihar. The IJU demands the Bihar government to ensure safety and security of journalists in the state.”

The IFJ said: “Attacks on media personnel across India remain a serious threat to press freedom and freedom of expression. The safety of journalists while reporting must be ensured by authorities. The IFJ urges Indian national and state authorities to conduct thorough investigations into the arrests and assaults of journalists in West Bengal and Bihar, and take meaningful action to ensure the safety of media practitioners.”

Written By

IFJ Asia-Pacific IFJ Asia-Pacific

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