The Caravan magazine reporter Ahan Penkar was assaulted by a police officer and then detained while he was reporting on the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Dalit girl in the north Delhi on Friday.
According to Caravan, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ajay Kumar kicked and slapped its staffer 23-year-old Penkar inside the Model Town police station premises. Penkar repeatedly told the police that he was a journalist and prominently displayed his press ID.
Caravan also tweeted an image of injuries on Penkar’s back.
“The police forcibly took his phone from him and then deleted all the videos he had recorded while reporting. He was detained for nearly four hours. He has sustained injuries on his nose, his shoulder, his back, and his ankle,” it said.
“Around 30 minutes after I reached, I was speaking to the aunt when the police came out and started taking the protesters and the aunt inside the station. I was recording the incident on my phone on one hand, with my press card of The Caravan clearly held out for the police to see on my other hand. I kept repeating that I am a journalist but the police took me along with the protesters inside the station. Despite seeing me hold my press card and despite me repeatedly telling them that I am a journalist, the police took me along with four other persons into a room in the ground floor of the police station and asked all of us to sit on the ground. The police forcibly took my phone from me as soon as they grabbed me outside the station,” Penkar, who is also a fact-checking fellow at Caravan wrote in the complaint to SN Shrivastava, Delhi’s commissioner of police.
He was covering a protest by the relatives of the rape victim and activists outside the Model Town police station against the police’s handling of the case. Protesters said no FIR has been lodged so far because the police claim the Dalit girl’s death was a suicide, not a murder.
“The ACP Ajay Kumar came into the room holding a steel rod and threatened to beat us with the rod. Then he dropped the rod and started beating all of us with his hands and legs,” Penkar said.
Penkar wrote in the compliant that the ACP Ajay Kumar kicked on his face first and he fell completely to the ground.
“When I was on the ground, the ACP kicked me on my back and my shoulders. When I sat back up, the ACP made me prostrate with my head nearly on the ground and then beat my back again. The ACP also stamped my ankle,” reads the complaint.
He narrated the ordeal: “Other police officials, whose names I do not know but can recognize if they are produced in front of me, also participated in the physical assault on the protesters, including beating a Sardar boy and a Muslim man. The police also removed the Sardar boy’s turban during the assault. At least five other police officials apart from the ACP participated in the physical assault, and there were at least five other police officials who were watching all this happen. Throughout the assault, the police officials kept abusing us.”
“An ACP assaults a reporter in a police station after seeing the press card reflects deliberate calculation and a sense that violence against media reporting inconvenient truths has sanction from the very top,” Hartosh Singh Bal, the political editor of The Caravan magazine tweeted.
“Is the Delhi Police a police force or a vigilante outfit?,” Bal asked.
“This is the fourth journalist of Caravan getting attacked in three months in Indian capital. And a Delhi Police officer in uniform assaults the journalist inside the station for following up on a 14-year girl’s death which the family says was rape and murder?,” Caravan editor Vinod K Jose tweeted.
In August this year, three journalists working with the Caravan were physically and sexually assaulted by a Hindu mob in Northeast Delhi’s Ghonda area while reporting on the aftermath of February’s anti-Muslim pogrom.