Dimapur-based newspaper Nagaland Page withdrew its complaint against a government railway police official for assaulting its reporter after receiving an “unconditional apology” from him, The Morung Express reported on Saturday.

The incident took place on Friday afternoon when Prasanjit Dutta asked railway police officials if he could use a platform to reach home. However, an official on duty assaulted the reporter and also asked if he was Muslim.

“Around noon on May 8, I had reached the Dimapur Railway Station foot-over bridge to reach my home at Netaji Colony, near Railway Colony, after covering a programme,” Dutta said in a statement. Since there was no barricade on one side of the bridge, he decided to use it. “But towards the end of the bridge, where the bridge splits into two – one leading to the railway platform, the other to Railway Colony – two police officers stopped me and said that the bridge was sealed.”

When Dutta asked them if he could use the railway platform to reach home, they told him that the bridge was also sealed but told him to try his luck with the railway police personnel on duty. “I noticed three officers – two males, one female – sitting just in the beginning of the platform,” he said. “I decided to ask them and if they would allow, I would use it, if not, I would go back. I reached the three officers and asked them if it was possible for me to use the platform and reach Railway Colony. One of them asked me if I had an identity card with me. I showed him the press identity card, but the other officer, just stood up in rage and questioned me who told me to use the platform.”

Dutta said that he tried to explain that he was only trying to ask if it was possible to cross and was not intending to actually use the platform without permission. “But in a fit of rage he started slapping me,” the journalist added. “Every time I tried to explain, he would just slap me. My spectacles flew from my face on the ground as he continued assaulting.”

Amid these assaults, the officer also asked Dutta if he was Muslim. “I told him I am a Bengali. He slapped me again and said whoever I might be, it was not my state and if I wanted to spread the virus, I should go to my own state and try it,” he added. “I picked my spectacles up and he shouted at me to go to the ‘thana’ [jail].”

After this one of the officers led him to the platform and apologised on behalf of the other official.
“I was slapped about six times,” Dutta said.

A press statement from the Dimapur Police said appropriate disciplinary action was taken against the railway personnel.

The Foundation for Media Professionals also criticised the unprovoked assault on Dutta, NorthEast Now reported. “The introduction of a communal angle in the assault further aggravated the seriousness of the incident,” convenor Samrat Choudhury said in a statement.

“Implicit bias on a communal basis amongst the police, or any government official, is a serious issue not only in Dimapur or Delhi, but around the world, with certain communities – for instance, blacks and Hispanics in America – being routinely subjected to worse treatment by police officials,” the foundation added.