On the afternoon of 16 October, the Delhi Police detained and assaulted Ahan Penkar, a 24-year-old staffer of The Caravan, while he was reporting in north Delhi. Ajay Kumar, the assistant commissioner of police of Model Town, kicked and slapped Penkar inside the Model Town police station premises. Penkar had repeatedly told the police that he was a journalist and prominently displayed his press card.
The police forcibly took Penkar’s phone from him and deleted all the photos and videos he had recorded while reporting. Penkar was detained for nearly four hours. In the assault, he sustained injuries on his nose, shoulder, back and ankle.
Penkar was reporting on a protest concerning the alleged rape and murder of a Dalit teenager in north Delhi. Students and activists had gathered outside the Model Town police station to demand the registration of a first-information report in the case, against a complaint by her relative. In early October, the 14-year-old had been discovered dead in the home at which she was employed as a domestic worker. The police had ruled her death a suicide, but the family suspects that she had been raped and murdered by the employer.
On 16 October, Penkar arrived at the Model Town police station at around 2.45 pm to report on a protest by a small crowd of about thirty people gathered outside it, including around ten members of the teenager’s family. At the time, some members of the crowd had gone inside the station to demand that an FIR be registered immediately. When the police refused to file the report, the small crowd began to raise slogans condemning the Delhi Police.
Around thirty minutes after he had reached, Penkar was speaking to the deceased teenager’s aunt when between ten and 15 police officials, both men and women, came out of the station. They asked the protestors to disperse. When the gathered crowd refused to leave and repeated its demand for an FIR, the police officials started taking protesters and the teenager’s family members inside the station. Most of the police personnel had not donned their uniform, making it difficult for the crowd to learn their name or rank.