IFJ Fears for Safety of Journalists in India in Wake of Media Attacks

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, today expressed concern over an alarming pattern of attacks against the media in Maharashtra, India after three incidents of attacks against journalists in a one-week period.

"Three attacks against journalists in a one-week period is a frightening statement about the status of press freedom and safety in Maharashtra, " said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

On 31 August 2004, Shiv Sainiks attacked and beat Jain TV cameraman Ramesh Khorddekar and assistant cameraman, Waris Ali at Churchgate station. Jain TV was covering the Shiv Sainiks protest against the ban on singing bhajans in suburban local trains. Both cameraman where thrown on the ground, punched and dragged out of the station after Sainiks began abusing Jain TV bureau chief, Wahid Ali Khan insisting they be interviewed on the protest.

On 28 August, Nikhel Wagle, editor of the evening daily Mahanagar and journalsists Yuvraj Mohite and Pramod Nigudkar, were allegedly attacked by Shiv Sainiks at Malvan in Sindhudurg district. The three were beaten, doused in kerosene oil and made to blacken their faces. Possible motives for the attack include comments made by Wagle against Narayan Rane, Leader of the Opposition of the Maharashtra Assembly. Four people have been arrested in connection with the attack and have since been released on bail.

These attacks follow the stabbing of Sajid Rashid, editor of the Hindi evening daily Hamara Mahanagar on 24 August by two assailants. The attack is allegedly connected with his statements against the prevalent Muslim custom of triple talaq, where a man can divorce his wife by repeating talaq three times.

The Maharashta Government announced an inquiry after a delegation of journalists and activists met the Government Ministers, demanding the Government take action in response to the attacks. The IFJ in a letter to the Maharashta Government has welcomed the inquiry into the attacks and reminded the Government of their responsibility to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice.

"When one of our colleagues is attacked, it is essential that a full investigation follows, justice and democracy demand it," said Warren.

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries