NEW YORK:The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Indian authorities to investigate the recent attacks on journalists in Agartala, capital of the eastern state of Tripura, where workers of the ruling BJP and opposition Trinamool Congress clashed, injuring 19 people.
At least five journalists were among those injured in the Nov 1 incident, according to the news website Newslaundry and Santosh Gope, secretary of Tripura Journalists Union, who spoke to CPJ over the phone.
“Authorities in India’s Tripura state must thoroughly investigate recent attacks on journalists, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, DC, said in a statement.
“The state government has a responsibility to guarantee that journalists can do their jobs safely, without threats to their lives,” he added.
Gope and Newslaundry identified the injured journalists as Ali Akbar Lashkar and Mamoni Bhattacharya, reporters with Kolkata-based news website Ab Tak Khabar; Miltan Dhar, a photographer with the news channel News Vanguard; Bapan Das, a photographer with the news channel Times24; and Prashant Dey, a photographer with the news channel Headlines Tripura.
Lashkar told CPJ in a phone interview that he and Bhattacharya had traveled to Agartala from Kolkata to cover the election. In the evening of November 21, he and the other reporters were interviewing government officials and politicians outside the East Agartala Women’s Police Station, where a Trinamool Congress politician had been detained, when a group of nearly 200 arrived and started attacking people.
Members of the mob wore helmets and brandished hockey sticks, batons, and rods, according to Newslaundry.
Lashkar told CPJ that he did not know the identities or affiliations of the people who attacked him. He said the attackers stole his press card, broke his boom mic, punched him, and beat him with batons as he struggled to enter the police station for his safety. He told CPJ that he sustained injuries to his back, head, and eyes.
Police took Lashkar and Bhattacharya to a nearby government hospital for treatment, but another group of about 20 people attempted to attack them there, and the journalists hid inside a bathroom for their safety, Lashkar told CPJ.