Some journalists were attacked in Kanker, Chhattisgarh on Saturday, allegedly in retaliation for reporting on the sand mafia in the area, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In his police complaint, journalist Kamal Shukla alleged that he was attacked by Congress leaders and that the local MLA’s aide waved a pistol at him. Journalists in Kanker have also sent a petition to Governor Anusuiya Uikey naming several Congress leaders. They alleged that apart from Shukla, journalists Jeevananda Haldar and Satish Yadav were attacked in front of the Kotwali police station.
The journalists alleged that Congress leaders created a ruckus and abused their colleagues at the police station. They accused the police officers present at the site of not doing anything to stop the Congress leaders. The journalists added that the CCTV recording of the entire incident is available at the police station.
In a video viral on social media, Kamal Shukla can be seen being pulled, dragged and beaten by a group of people, who let out streams of abuse. The journalist’s shirt was torn. A crowd gathered at the spot can be seen helping him after the attack.
The journalists said they managed to prevent Shukla from being attacked inside the police station, but once he was outside, he was assaulted by Congress leaders Gaffar Memon, Shadab Khan and Ganesh Tiwari. Jeevananda Haldar, who attempted to save Shukla, also suffered injuries. The journalists claimed Shukla and Haldar were both seriously wounded.
The journalists demanded that strong action be taken against those responsible for attacking Shukla, Haldar and Yadav.
Shukla, who suffered an injury on his neck, later told the Committee to Protect Journalists that he was attacked for reporting on illegal sand mining in Kanker.
“I am not afraid,” he told media persons. “Of course, I am in pain.” He said that a self-described aide of Congress MLA from Kanker Shishupal Shori waved a pistol at him inside the police station. The aide has been identified as Gaffar Memon. Shukla said that he had been writing against Shori and illegal sand mining in Kanker.
“We [journalists] tried to hide inside the police station, but they told us to get out,” Shukla said. “I did not think we could be protected inside the police station, because those men were entering the place to threaten us time and again.” Shukla added that the men who beat him up also threatened to take his life.
In April, the Chhattisgarh administration had issued a show-cause notice to a journalist in Bastar for allegedly publishing a report that “damaged the image of the administration”. The notice, dated April 26, had asked Neeraj Shivhare of Bastar ki Aawaz to appear before the authorities in Dantewada and provide an explanation for his article.
The report that the notice referred to was an article from April 25, where a woman from Geedam said she was forced to sell household items to buy rations amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus. The notice said that Shivhare had published the report without complete information.