On May 1, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
The University’s decision caused a lot of stir among students who opposed the move citing “human rights violations in Turkey”.
The Quint journalist Meghnad Bose with camera person Aaqib Raza Khan were broadcasting a Facebook Live video outside the University on whether honouring President Erdogan was a good move as the country has been accused of human rights violations and crackdown on activists, journalists and academicians following a failed coup last year.
In his Facebook post, Bose claims that 18 minutes into the live, the police asked them to move to another side of the gate, pushing them in the required direction. A few cops also asked them to continue the video inside the campus. However, they were stopped by the University guards.
At this time, Khan was also being shoved aside. Even as both the reporters questioned the police as to why they were being pushed away, Bose was slapped four times on his face by Rajbir Singh of the Delhi Police.
Just got assaulted by the Delhi Police outside Jamia Millia Islamia. Slapped 4 times by Rajbir Singh of the Delhi Police without any provocation whatsoever. Will not take this lying down. More to follow.
The live video was ongoing during the assault, recording the attacks by the police.
Bose claimed that he was slapped despite the situation being under control. Both the reporters were kept inside the police vehicle for half an hour as the police confiscated Khan’s personal phone and office phone where the video was being recorded.
Bose was also asked to give his phone, and when he refused, a constable who sat guard in the vehicle asked him to keep his mouth shut and threatened to beat him up.
Later, both the journalists were taken to the University police station and then to the police station at Jamia Nagar where they were told, “Consider this like a father beating a son. This is a good experience. No personal grudges here, so move on.”
However, the Delhi Police PRO issued the following statement, “I have seen the Facebook video and confirmed from DCP SE also that there was deployment because of movement of Turkish President. I have told him about the incident and complaint of Sh. Meghnad. He has assured me to look into the matter. And he will also speak to him through his colleagues in Quint.”
DCP Southeast Romil Baaniya called Bose and apologised for the incident. He condemned the assault and said the Delhi Police will look into the matter.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) also criticised the attack and demanded action against the errant cop.
— CPJ Asia (@cpjasia) May 3, 2017
Since last year, India has moved down three places in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by international free speech advocate Reporters Without Borders (RSF). India’s ranking is now 136 in a list of 180 countries.
The low ranking can be attributed to the recent “nationalism” wave in the country and increasing “self-censorship” in the mainstream media.
In times like these, it is essential we remember that freedom of press is a necessary pre-condition to the fulfilment of democratic ideologies – it is considered the fourth pillar of democracy.
The Logical Indian community condemns any assault on journalists for performing their duties. Though the Delhi Police has apologised for the incident, we hope that strict action is taken against the cops who misused their powers.