A journalist working with The Caravan magazine was on Friday allegedly assaulted by a senior police officer in North Delhi and detained for nearly four hours while he was reporting on protests against the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in the area.
“Today [Friday] afternoon, the Delhi Police assaulted The Caravan India’s staffer Ahan Penkar while he was reporting,” the magazine tweeted. “ACP [Assistant Commissioner of Police] Ajay Kumar kicked and slapped Penkar inside the Model Town station premises. Penkar repeatedly told the police that he was a journalist and prominently displayed his press ID.”
However, the deputy commissioner of police, North West Delhi, on Saturday said that Penkar was seen protesting and was detained, after which he had said he was a journalist. The police have sent him a notice on the matter.
Penkar was reporting on a protest concerning the alleged rape and murder of a teenager in North Delhi, the magazine added. “Students and activists had gathered outside the Model Town police station to demand the registration of an FIR in the case,” it said. Caravan also shared a photo of the injuries on Penkar’s back.
Penkar later submitted a complaint to Delhi Commissioner of Police SN Srivastava. The journalist said that he saw a group of people gathered around the police station, demanding that the police file an FIR in the rape case.
Penkar said he was speaking to the 14-year-old girl’s aunt when the police began taking the protestors inside the station. He held up his press card and kept repeating that he was reporting the news, but the police took him inside too.
The journalist said that the police forcibly took his phone from him and deleted all the videos that he had recorded while reporting. “The police was abusing us the whole time and threatening us,” Penkar said in his complaint. “After a little time, the ACP Ajay Kumar came into the room holding a steel rod and threatened to beat us with the rod.”
Penkar added that Kumar kicked him in the face, back and shoulders. He also said that the police officer stamped on his ankle and threatened to register a case against him and others. The journalist added that he also saw the police beat up a Muslim man and a Sikh boy. He demanded an FIR against the police officers who assaulted him.
In August, three journalists from magazine were attacked by a mob in North East Delhi’s Subhash Mohalla neighbourhood while they were reporting on a story.
Journalists Prabhjit Singh, Shahid Tantray and their colleague were covering communal tensions that broke out in the area on the night of August 5, following the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. In his complaint to the police, Singh said that had he not intervened, Tantray would have been beaten to death by the mob since he was a Muslim.
At a meeting organised by the Press Club of India on August 13, the journalists said that the Delhi Police had been helpless and scared of the mob.
Several journalists’ organisations had expressed outrage over the attack on Singh, Tantray and their colleague and demanded a first information report against the accused. The Editors Guild of India called the attack on the journalists “reprehensible” and demanded that the police take quick action against the guilty.