A journalist employed with Dainik Asom, a leading Assamese daily, was brutally attacked in the state’s Nalbari district late Thursday evening, the district police said. The assault happened barely 500 metres from Rajan Deka’s home.
“He [Deka] was returning home when a person assaulted him with a half-broken bamboo stick,” said Nalbari police chief Amanjit Kaur. “He has been hit on his forehead, his arm.” Deka was rushed to the Guwahati Medical College on Thursday night and he received stitches for his injuries, said Kaur.
The police said there was no evidence yet to link the attack with Deka’s work, but his colleagues and editor claimed otherwise. According to Munin Bayon, Dainik Asom’s editor, there had been a “social media campaign” against him following a story he had written for the newspaper.
The report, which appeared in the paper’s April 25 edition, detailed a clash between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers that allegedly took place during a feast organised by the BJP at a local polling booth on April 24. The report was a few hundred words long and did not carry Deka’s byline.
“After the story appeared, there were several posts on social media, which spoke of teaching him [Deka] a lesson,” said Bayon.
According to Mujibur Rahman, a local reporter from Nalbari district, the accounts threatening Deka were connected to the BJP. Rahman claimed there was not just one attacker as the police had claimed. “The police are acting on the BJP’s behalf,” he alleged. “There were several of them and Deka identified two of them.”
Bayon also contested the police’s version that there was only one assaulter. He said: “When I spoke to him [Deka], he told me that six to seven people had accosted him, although, only one of them physically assaulted him. All of these boys were from an adjacent village and had some or the other connection to the BJP.”
The police, however, said their “investigation so far” had yielded no such link to the BJP. Police have not made any arrests either.
Deka was not available for comment.
In a separate incident, journalist Upasana Barua Goswami of News18 Assam-North East was allegedly attacked in Tinsukia, IANS reported. Four people have been arrested in connection with the assault, reports said.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal issued a press statement on Friday afternoon condemning the attacks. He said his government will take strict action against the perpetrators.