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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Chhattisgarh: Editor assaulted in Kanker, councillor among four arrested

Kamal Shukla, 53, editor of Bhumkal News, was assaulted by a group of people, leaving him injured, the FIR stated.

Written by Gargi Verma | Raipur | Updated: September 27, 2020 11:07:59 am
kamala shukla, kanker journalist, j=hunger strike, journalist attacked by mob, mob attacks journalists in chhattisgarh, indian expressKamal Shukla narrating the incident to press.

Four men including a councilor and the husband of the council leader were arrested for allegedly assaulting and threatening the editor of a regional daily newspaper near Kanker city police station in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar division on Saturday.

The incident occurred when some journalists had approached the police after one of them allegedly received threats.

Kanker ward councilor Shadab Khan, ex-councilor Jitendra Singh Thakur, journalist Ganesh Tiwari and Congress MLA’s representative Abdul Gaffar Memon are among those arrested.

53-year-old Kamal Shukla, editor of Bhumkal News was assaulted by a group of people in which he suffered injuries, the FIR stated. A video of the assault, in which Shukla is being dragged in a disheveled state amidst a huge mob, was also uploaded on social media by people present. Shukla who was likely bleeding at the time was also abused by a mob while some journalists were trying to intervene, the video showed.

“I was abused and shown guns twice inside the police station by Gaffar Memon, who claims to be a Congress representative,” Shukla’s written statement to the police said. He accused the policemen including the thana in-charge of inciting the crowd. His statement read, “The police clearly seem to be under political pressure but I, a common man, have no option but to approach the police.” Shukla who suffered injuries to his neck and head also added, “I was threatened by policemen a couple of days ago too. I believe they are involved in this too.”

Shukla in his statement also said that the accused accosted him inside the police station threatening him for disrupting their Sand business. “I have in the past written stories on the corrupt of the councilmen, illegal sandmining and other issues and hence am made into a target,” he said.

The FIR registered under sections 294 (Whoever, to the annoyance of others does any obscene act in any public place), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code was registered against the four arrested along with others. Thakur is the husband of the current council leader (parshad adhyaksh) and congress leader Saroj Singh Thakur and previously occupied the same seat. Tiwari is a local journalist and the editor of Amar Stambh, a local daily.

While Thakur and Tiwari couldn’t be reached for a comment, Memon, one of the arrested, submitted a complaint accusing Shukla of attacking him at the Kanker police station and fearing for his life. According to police officials however, the complaint will not be turned into an FIR.

According to the statement released by the police, it was a “mutual estrangement” that became physical between journalists Shukla and Tiwari along with Tiwari’s supporters. However, journalists in Kanker have submitted a letter to the governor accusing the Congress workers of assaulting and abusing them. Requesting her to intervene the journalists said, “There will be CCTV recordings of how the police did nothing to help us. We managed to shield Shukla and others for sometime but eventually we were attacked by Congress workers and hooligans.”

Activists across the state took to social media to condemn the attack on a senior journalist, calling the Congress government out for promising to bring a Journalist Protection Law in its manifesto. People’s Union for Civil Liberties issued a statement condemning the incident and demanding immediate security for journalists involved in the incident along with a long term law. “Kamal Shukla has fought for the safety of journalists and it’s ironic that he was attacked by people from the ruling party who promised to make a law for journalists,” the statement said.

Congress government led-Chhattisgarh’s home minister Tamradhwaj Sahu in a statement to press denied it being a political issue. “This seems to be some internal matter between journalists and that led to some heated exchange. I have asked the police to follow procedure and FIR has been registered,” he said.

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