India: Journalist attacked by mob for reporting on illegal slaughterhouse

Senior journalist and editor of Vijaya Times, Vijayalakshmi Shibaroor, was allegedly threatened and physically assaulted by a violent mob, while reporting on illegal slaughterhouses in Pension Mohalla in the Hassan district of Karnataka state. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Indian affiliates the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and the National Union of Journalists India (NUJ-I) condemn the attack.

Violent mob in Hassan attacks journalist Vijayalakshmi . Credit: Vijaya Times

The female journalist was attempting to visit the illegal slaughterhouse and five other cattle hoarding spots with a team of police and animal rights activists who were aiming to rescue the animals. As the group attempted to gain access to the building on December 1, a violent mob abused and threatened the journalist. Reports allege the journalist was shoved and verbally abused, with some crowd members threatening death if she did not vacate the area. A video of the incident was published online by Indian news outlets.

A First Incident Report (FIR) was registered at Arasikere Town police station. Known cattle smugglers Hassan Babu and Rehmaan were operating the raided illegal slaughterhouse as well as at least three others with almost 100 cattle in each. Three months earlier, several tonnes of animal corpses were found in the same area.

In a similar incident on November 16, Milan Mahanta, a correspondent for Assamese daily newspaper Assomiya Pratidin, was tied to a post and beaten by numerous assailants for his reporting on gambling activities in the Kamrup district of Assam. The IFJ’s recent campaign to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists profiled India’s grim record of murders, assaults and abuse of journalists and media workers in the field, with the large majority of cases failing to be resolved or prosecuted.

The NUJ-I president, Ras Bihari, said: “The NUJ (I) terms the act as an attack on the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. We strongly condemn the dastardly attack and calls on authorities to punish the guilty.”

The IJU president Geetartha Pathak said: “Prohibition on cow slaughtering is a controversial act, enacted by BJP nationalist government. Therefore reporting of cow slaughtering with police protection necessarily provokes local people whose livelihood is dependent on such business. The IJU while condemning the attack on the woman journalist in Hassan district of Karnataka also asks reporters to be sensitive to the factors around such coverage.”

The IFJ said: “The escalating frequency of attacks on journalists in India represents an alarming decline in the safety of media workers in the field. The IFJ condemns the verbal and physical assault of Vijayalakshmi Shibaroor and calls for the swift prosecution of all perpetrators.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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