A Station House Officer and a constable have been suspended for allegedly assaulting a journalist in Shamli Tuesday night. Rakesh Kumar, the SHO of Government Railway Police (GRP) Shamli, and constable Sanjay Pawar faced action after a purported video of them attacking the journalist, Amit Sharma of News 24, became public. Sharma, who was covering the derailment of a goods train, claimed he was stripped and beaten up by police officers at Shamli GRP station, and also alleged that an officer urinated in his mouth.
Police said Sharma has filed an official complaint and an FIR had been registered. “We have come across a video where a journalist has been assaulted and put up in lock-up. DGP, Uttar Pradesh, O P Singh has ordered immediate suspension of SHO Rakesh Kumar and constable Sanjay Pawar. Strict punishment shall be accorded to policemen misbehaving with citizens,” the UP Police said in a statement.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said he will seek a report in the matter.
Around 9 pm Tuesday, two wagons of a goods train had derailed in Dhimanpur, following which police and a few mediapersons reached the spot.
Sharma claimed journalists were asked to leave. “We were standing next to the tracks. The policemen told us we should have our ‘pattas’ (ID) around our neck. An argument ensued after that. The SHO smacked my camera away and started hurling abuses. Other mediapersons were also injured. I was taken to the police station, where they took off their belts and hit me. One of the police officers also urinated in my mouth. It was traumatic,” he told The Indian Express.
Sharma claimed police officers were annoyed with him over a story he had done last month. “We had aired a story on May 11 on our channel regarding an alleged corruption circle involving police officers from the particular station. The story highlighted how, despite having no permissions for vendors in goods train, police were allowing them to operate after taking a hefty cut. The SHO knew about the story and it made him angry to see me at the spot,” alleged Sharma, who has been a reporter with News 24 for the last four years.
Sharma said the assault in the lock-up lasted 15-20 minutes, following which he was allowed to leave. He has named three constables and an SHO in his complaint.
A purported video of the assault shows the SHO hitting the journalist. Eyewitnesses claimed he was dragged for 200 metres to the police station. Another purported video shows Sharma behind bars, detailing the assault.
Pankaj Mallik, another journalist who was present at the spot, claimed: “I received an injury on my finger since police used sticks to beat us. We were outside the station making calls for help. In the meantime, police attacked Amit in a barbaric manner. No arrests have been made despite so much evidence.”
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An FIR has been filed under IPC sections 323 (punishment for hurt), 504 (provoking breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), 364 (kidnapping), 392 (punishment for robbery) and 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) in Shamli GRP station, police said. It names four policemen — Rakesh Kumar, Sanjay Pawar, Sunil and Tinku.
SHO Kumar was posted at the particular station in April last year. Police claimed the alleged involvement of other policemen in the assault is being investigated.
Anuradha Prasad, promoter of News 24, said such an incident was “neither expected nor accepted”. “I just got to know that apart from suspending the officers, an FIR has been filed, which is a good step… They not only thrashed him, they urinated in his mouth. It is barbaric. The punishments given to them should be exemplary,” Prasad said.