Monday, February 26, 2024

Muslim women helped me and bravely asked Hindu mob to back off: Caravan’ woman Journalist recounts attack

“What I went through on 11 August is the most traumatising experience of my life,” said The Caravan’s woman journalist who was was subjected to communal slurs, physical assault, and sexual harassment from a Hindu mob in northeast Delhi.

“This incident won’t deter me from pursuing many more stories like this and I am not afraid to do so,” she said.

The woman journalist’s statement was read out in a press meeting hosted by the Press Club of India regarding the attack on Thursday. The author and activist Arundhati Roy, the advocate Prashant Bhushan, the Press Club of India’s president Anand Sahay and The Caravan’s political editor Hartosh Singh Bal addressed the meeting.

The Caravan journalists Prabhjit Singh, Shahid Tantray and a female journalist who asked not to be identified out of fear for her safety were attacked by a Hindu mob in northeast Delhi including local leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday while they were covering a story about an anti-Muslim atmosphere that broke out in the area on the night of August 5, following the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Prabhjit and Tantray recounted their ordeal in the press meeting.

“First, I want to congratulate my colleagues Shahid and Prabhjit for their relentless courage and determination in pursuing stories on the anti-Muslim violence in northeast Delhi. I want to say that I am proud and will always be proud of being a part of The Caravan magazine,” woman journalist said.

She said that what she went through on 11 August is the most traumatising experience of her life.

“I want to highlight the courage of the Muslims of northeast Delhi, especially Shanno and her family, whose story we were reporting. While interviewing these women about how the police molested them at the Bhajanpura police station, they recounted the ordeal they had to face from the locals, police and media. Their courage in facing all this was an inspiration. Shanno and her daughter are an inspiration for me,” said the journalist.

The Caravan had reported about Shanno and her daughter, who had accused the Delhi Police in Bhajanpura of sexually assaulting them on 8 August, when they had gone to file a complaint about the people who had shouted the slogans at midnight, asking Muslim people in the area to leave the neighbourhood.

“Shanno’s young daughter seemed exhausted but she was fearless when we asked if she would speak on record. Her eyes were bright and with a faint smile she said, “I am not afraid of speaking out the truth.” There is nothing more courageous than this. Many Muslim women who reside in north Ghonda came out to help me and bravely asked the Hindu mob to back off as it was attacking me,” the female journalist, who took refuge in the nearby Muslim area when the attack began said in her statement.

She urged all the journalists out there, who are not afraid of taking on this increasingly fascist government, to report more on Muslims of northeast Delhi and document their bravery. 

She also expressed her thanks to her editors and colleagues in The Caravan “who are supportive and courageous and from whom I (she) learned good journalism, at a time when the media is in such a dark state in this country”. 

The journalist wrote in a police complaint that three women and several men hit her on the head, arms, chest, and hips, and wrote that a middle-aged man exposed himself to her and taunted her.

The Delhi police has still not registered an FIR in the complaints that the journalists had filed at the station.

She concluded her words by saying “Shanno kept repeating the word “insaaf” [justice] to us with tears in her eyes. It is still reverberating in my ears. As the media, we should do our duties fearlessly and pledge our solidarity to the brave women who are fighting for justice. This incident won’t deter me from pursuing many more stories like this and I am not afraid to do so. I again thank my friends, colleagues, editors, and all who stood by us.”

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