Committee to Protect Journalists urges India police to drop retaliatory investigation into 3 journalists News
Chandrak / Pixabay
Committee to Protect Journalists urges India police to drop retaliatory investigation into 3 journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Delhi police on Monday to end its investigation into three journalists from an Indian journalism platform named The Caravan. CPJ asked the police of India’s capital to investigate the people involved in attacks against the journalists during the 2020 Delhi riot.

Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist were assaulted and attacked during the 2020 New Delhi riot while on duty. The journalists, one of whom is Muslim, were subjected to communal slurs and death threats and the female journalist was sexually harassed. As reported by The Caravan, one of the men involved in the attack on the three journalists identified himself as a “general secretary” of the Bhartiya Janata Party, the ruling party of the country.

On August 14, 2020, three days after the journalists’ complaint, a  First Information Report (FIR) was registered by the Delhi police against the journalists under sections 354 and 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which provides offence for outraging the woman’s modesty and promoting communal enmity, following a complaint by an unknown woman. The journalists’ complaint was registered as FIR an hour later on the same day. However, the journalists claimed that the Delhi police did not register their FIR on the same day. The Delhi police are now labelling the journalists’ FIR as an escape move from the complaint registered against them, describing it as a “counter-FIR”.

India’s capital saw an unfortunate bloodshed-communal riot starting on February 23, 2020, where around 53 people were killed, including 38 victims belonging to the Muslim community. The contentious Citizenship Amendment Act brought by the ruling BJP government in 2020 became the clashing point between the Muslim and Hindu communities. Human Rights Watch has called out the police over the handling of the riot, stating it was “marked by bias, delays, inaccuracy, lack of proper evidence, and failure to follow proper procedures”. Moreover, an independent Delhi Minorities Commission has reported through its investigation that the violence during the riot was targeted and biased against Muslims which also involved an active partisan conduct by the Delhi police.

India was ranked 159 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2024. Human Rights Watch has frequently expressed concern over press and media freedom in the country.