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Mumbai Joins Delhi’s protest; SC to hear Patiala House PIL today

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Mumbai Joins Delhi’s protest; SC to hear Patiala House PIL today

The Mumbai Press club has announced that it will organize a silent protest today against the attack on journalists in New Delhi.

The press club will also hold a public meeting to discuss steps to safeguard the independence of the third and the fourth estate. A formal protest note will also be handed over to Maharashtra Governor.

On Tuesday journalists from various organisations held a protest march from Press Club New Delhi to Supreme Court of India against the assault that happened on Monday in Patiala House Court. All the press persons present at the protest prepared a memorandum for the Chief Justice of India asking for immediate action against those responsible for the assault.

Condemning the attack on journalists in New Delhi, The Mumbai Press Club in a statement said, “The Mumbai Press Club is shocked and disturbed at the attack on journalists on duty at the Capital’s Patiala Court premises by Men in Black claiming to be lawyers, and some goons led by BJP Delhi MLA O.P. Sharma. The brutal violence inflicted on scribes that were reporting the court proceeding related to the JNU arrests involved dragging out reporters from the courtroom and assaulting them. The temerity of attackers was so brazen that they equated covering the court proceedings against Kanhaiya Kumar for sedition as an “anti-national” act!

More than the incident of violence against the Fourth Estate, the Press Club is more concerned against the increasing drift of the polity and social fabric of the country to levels not seen since the 1977 ‘Emergency Rule’ of Indira Gandhi. Besides repeated attacks on Press freedoms and undermining the Fourth Estate, the attack carried out yesterday was also a body blow on the Third Estate and the Judiciary.

The fact that journalists were beaten up slapped and kicked around for being in a courtroom and for reporting a sedition proceeding in the Patiala courts, speaks volumes of the extent that fascist elements within the ruling party and government can go to snuff out the right to legal defence.

What was most shocking though was the complete and nonchalant abetment of the police force at the courtrooms that allowed the journalists to be beaten before them and who thought nothing of arresting or restraining the attackers. Court premises all over the country and especially in the capital are well-guarded given the level of terrorist-related fears. The kind of scenes and violence we saw could have been easily prevented by a small group of 25 attackers who wrecked havoc.

Worse still, the Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi termed the attack as ‘a minor fallout of an emotive issue’; this has left people in doubt whether the police has selective amnesia in favour of the ruling party where maintaining law and order is concerned.

We call upon the judiciary, since the acts were committed in its premises and undermined judicial process, to take action against the perpetrators.

We also call upon the Union Home minister to take action against the Delhi Police for remaining silent bystanders to systematic and unprovoked violence against the journalists. We demand O.P. Sharma, and the other attackers, whose identity is well known, be arrested and charged for assault and violating the precincts of a judicial institution.”

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