On the afternoon of 11 August, a mob assaulted three journalists working with The Caravan—Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist—in Subhash Mohalla, in northeast Delhi’s North Ghonda neighbourhood. They were taking photographs of saffron flags that had been tied in the area, when some men approached them and told them to stop. The mob launched their attack upon realising that Tantray was Muslim. For around an hour and a half, the journalists were under attack, subjected to communal slurs, threatened with murder and sexually harassed.
The woman journalist was attempting to get away from the attack when a middle-aged man sexually harassed her. He “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,” she later wrote in a detailed complaint to the police. After running away from the man, she was asking for directions to the Bhajanpura police station, where her colleagues were also going. The mob found her again and beat her. The Delhi police has still not registered an FIR in the two complaints that the journalists had filed at the station. To ensure the safety of the woman journalist, The Caravan is concealing her identity.
The three journalists were conducting follow-up reporting on a recent article by Prabhjit and Tantray about a Delhi violence complainant. The complainant, Shanno, had accused police officials at the Bhajanpura police station of beating and sexually assaulting her and her 17-year-old daughter on the night of 8 August.
On the evening of 13 August, the Press Club of India hosted a meeting regarding the attack, which was streamed on Twitter and Facebook. The author and activist Arundhati Roy, the advocate Prashant Bhushan, the Press Club of India’s president Anand Sahay and The Caravan’s political editor Hartosh Singh Bal addressed the meeting. Prabhjit and Tantray recounted their ordeal. The woman journalist wrote a statement, which was read out. Her statement is reproduced below.
First, I want to congratulate my colleagues Shahid and Prabhjit for their relentless courage and determination in pursuing stories on the anti-Muslim violence in northeast Delhi. I want to say that I am proud and will always be proud of being a part of The Caravan magazine.
What I went through on 11 August is the most traumatising experience of my life, but here, I want to highlight the courage of the Muslims of northeast Delhi, especially Shanno and her family, whose story we were reporting.