The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is
shocked by the political intolerance on display in India, with two attacks on
television studios in the country on July 16.
first incident, the premises of news channel Headlines Today were attacked in
the capital, Delhi.
The second incident took place in the distant city of Kolhapur
in the western state of Maharashtra, where the
studios of Zee 24 Taas, a news channel broadcasting in the local Marathi
language, were ransacked as a talk show on a border dispute with the
neighbouring state of Karnataka was aired.
to reports from IFJ affiliates, a mob of 3000 people gathered in a busy area of
Delhi on the
evening of July 16 and sought to force its way into the Headlines Today
building. Lifts were disabled and stairways blocked by security personnel, preventing
the crowd from entering the office on an upper floor. Attackers caused
extensive damage in the building foyer and paralysed all routes of entry and
exit for more than two hours. A Headlines Today cameraman was assaulted and
some workers at commercial facilities in the building were injured.
sources report the mob consisted of volunteers and leaders of the Rashtriya
Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist body, some of whose high-placed
office-holders were recently implicated in media reports, including one by
Headlines Today, for alleged involvement in bombings across the country.
Headlines Today broadcast on July 14 relied on hidden cameras and the so-called
“sting” technique. Its basic message underlined the findings of several news reports
in the daily press in recent days, notably in the Mail Today, a daily
newspaper owned by the same media group as Headlines Today. According to
sources, the offices of the Mail Today, which are located in the same
building, could also have been the target of the attack.
is shocked that an incident of this sort could happen in Delhi,
so close to the administrative hub of India’s capital,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
upon authorities in Delhi
to bring to account all those who led and participated in this incident. With
the more prominent leaders of this attack on press freedom already identified
by witnesses, there is no excuse for inaction.”
The IFJ is
encouraged by the virtually unanimous condemnation of the incident by all
concerned bodies, including the Delhi Union of Journalists, a constituent unit
of IFJ affiliate the Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU).
incident in Kolhapur involved cadre of the Shiv
Sena, a far right nationalist grouping that once was the leading partner in the
ruling coalition in Maharashtra state. Maharashtra has long been involved in a dispute with
neighbouring Karnataka state over the disposition of the district of Belgaum,
which it claims.
on the Zee 24 Taas studios occurred at 9.45 pm during the broadcast of a talk
show which included spokesmen for the case of Karnataka.
people were injured, including two news staff. The IFJ understands that 11 of
the political cadre involved in the attack surrendered to police the following
day and were released on bail fixed at a nominal INR 15,000 (USD 315).
urges authorities in Maharashtra to pursue
those responsible for this outrageous attack on free speech,” Park said.
“Yielding to the political convenience of the moment could have serious
consequences for the future of media freedom in India.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific