The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) in condemning the assault on a journalist for critical reporting of a politician in Chirala of Andhra Pradesh, India on February 5. The IFJ demands immediate investigation and action against those responsible.
According to reports, Nayudu Nagarjuna Reddy, who runs a Telugu-language magazine Matti Chetula Baasa (Language of the Oppressed) and works part-time in a TV station, was chased and thrashed publicly by a gang led by Amanchi Swamulu, a brother of a Telugu Desam Party’s Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).
A video clip of the assault was circulated that shows Swamulu thrashing journalist Reddy with a stick, while his aides kicked and punched him. A couple of policemen remained mute spectators, while two other civilians were pushed aside when they tried to rescue the scribe. The reason for the attack is believed to be an article by Reddy in his magazine describing how the MLA was allegedly indulging in corrupt practices including illegal sand mining, land encroachments and fraudulently obtaining loans meant for economically backward persons.
After the assault, Reddy was taken to a hospital and is reportedly in a stable condition. The Chirala town police has registered a case against Swamulu and others for assault but has arrested no one.
IJU President S N Sinha, Secretary General Amar Devulapalli and K Amarnath member of Press Council of India (PCI) condemned the incident and referred the case to PCI to “take suo motu cognizance of the case and appoint an inquiry committee to get the facts of the incident and instill confidence among journalists in Andhra Pradesh”. The Andhra Pradesh Working Journalists Federation (APWJF) has strongly condemned the incident, and is petitioning the local administration and the state government to take immediate action.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the assault on journalist N Nagarjuna Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, India over critical news and demands that those responsible in the act to be immediately arrested and prosecuted. Such an incident not only shows the lawlessness in the state but also instills fear among journalists in carrying out their professional duties to serve the public and expose wrongdoings of those in power. The IFJ urges the Indian government to ensure that journalists remain safe.”