The Caravan’s journalists assaulted, sexually harassed in northeast Delhi

12 August 2020
On 11 August, three journalists working with The Caravan—Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist—were beaten, subjected to communal slurs, threatened with murder, and sexually harassed, while reporting in Subhash Mohalla, in northeast Delhi’s North Ghonda neighbourhood. Immediately after the attack, Singh and the woman journalist filed complaints at the Bhajanpura police station.
On 11 August, three journalists working with The Caravan—Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist—were beaten, subjected to communal slurs, threatened with murder, and sexually harassed, while reporting in Subhash Mohalla, in northeast Delhi’s North Ghonda neighbourhood. Immediately after the attack, Singh and the woman journalist filed complaints at the Bhajanpura police station.

On the afternoon of 11 August, a mob assaulted three journalists working with The Caravan, in Subhash Mohalla, in northeast Delhi’s North Ghonda neighbourhood. The journalists were reporting on a story concerning a Delhi violence complainant. For around an hour and a half, the journalists—Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist—were under attack, subjected to communal slurs, threatened with murder, and sexually harassed. The journalists were taking photographs of saffron flags that had been tied in the area, when some men approached them and told them to stop. One of the men, who was wearing a saffron kurta and had a bandage on his arm, identified himself as a “BJP general secretary.” He asked Tantray for his identity card. The mob launched their attack upon realising that Tantray was Muslim. During her attempt to get away from the attack, the woman journalist faced sexual harassment from a middle-aged man who exposed himself to her. Later, the mob attacked her as well. To ensure the safety of the journalist, The Caravan is concealing her identity.

The attack began at around 2 pm, when a mob of locals—men and women—surrounded the journalists, and then began assaulting them after learning of Tantray’s Muslim identity. During the attack, the woman journalist extricated herself to get out of the lane through a gate. The mob soon locked the gate behind her, capturing the other two journalists inside. As the attack was ongoing, the woman journalist pleaded with the attackers to let her colleagues go, a man with a crew-cut hairstyle, who had rakhis tied around his wrist, pulled at her clothing to try and drag her inside. The woman journalist ran from the lane to a neighbouring one. As she sat on a slab to compose herself, young men surrounded her. The men, who looked  to be in their early twenties, began taking photos and videos of her, and “making cheap and lewd comments and started saying ‘Dikhao, dikhao’”—“Show, show.” The woman journalist recounted these events in a detailed complaint to the police, filed immediately after the incident.

As she walked away, “a middle-aged man in a dhoti and a white t-shirt, with a bald head and a slim pony-tail stood in front of me,” the woman journalist noted in her complaint. “He then opened his dhoti and exposed his genitals while looking at me. He proceeded to shake his penis with his hand and started making objectionable and lewd expressions, while laughing at me.” After running away from the man, she received a call from Tantray, asking her to come to the Bhajanpura police station. By that time, Tantray and Singh were being taken to the station by the police. As she was asking for directions to the station, the mob found her again and beat her.

At the lane where the attack had begun, Singh recounted that a crowd of around twenty people had already assembled at the area even before the saffron-clad man asked to see Tantray’s ID card. He informed the crowd that the three journalists were members of the press and were not doing anything illegal. “We are only taking photos of the lane, not inside anyone’s house,” Singh told the crowd. “Any journalist would take these photos if they saw so many saffron flags.” But the crowd did not relent. The man in saffron told them, “Tumhari tarah fattichar patrakar bahut dekhe hai”—I have seen many wretched journalists like you. “Main BJP general secretary hun, humaara kuch nahi bigaad sakte tum”—I am a BJP general secretary, you can’t do anything to us.

Keywords: Delhi Violence sexual harassment communal violence Delhi Police press freedom
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