A photojournalist with a city tabloid was allegedly beaten up by the police at an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest on Thursday. Ashish Raje, who is also a joint secretary of the Mumbai Press Club, was covering `Mumbai Bagh', a sit-in protest on the lines of Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, by women in Nagpada area. The protest is going on for the last 12 days.
Raje was allegedly pushed and assaulted by two police officials when he was walking to the protest venue. A video of the incident also went viral on social media. Talking to Republic TV, Raje narrated his ordeal and said:
"I had gone to cover the protests in Nagpada area. When I reached, the cops asked me for an ID proof to which I complied. However, when I tried entering the barricades they pulled me away and started abusing me. After that they started manhandling me and eventually beat me up,"
As the matter heated up, Raje asserted that more police personnel showed up and blamed him. In addition, Raje also stated that one of the policeman asked him to hand over his camera and even went on to threaten him
"The cops asked me to hand over the camera which I refused. One of the policeman also threatened to register a case against me," said Raje
Another photojournalist who was present during the incident said that Raje was taken to a hospital and was found to have suffered an injury to his thigh.
"We clicked pictures where the policemen are seen thrashing him. We had left the protest venue to have tea and when we tried to return, the policemen asked us for id-cards. We were ready to show our cards but for no reason one of the officers lost temper and attacked Raje," he said.
"We are looking into the issue," said Additional Commissioner of Police Viresh Prabhu when reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Press Club in its statement that:
"The Mumbai Press Club condemns a brutal police atrocity against its member Ashish Raje who was on assignment at Nagpada where anti-CAA sit-in is being held. Two police officers slapped Raje in the face and also hit him with a lathi for no reason, injuring him very badly. We condemn the violence against the journalists, especially this act by the people who are supposed to uphold the law of the land and not violate it. The journalists aren't criminals to be treated with this kind of brutality. The delegation of Press Club and other journalist associations met Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to seek action against the officers responsible. The minister has apologised for the condemnable act and issued directives to probe the incident.
State run JJ hospital’s doctors confirmed assault on Raje. We demand that the home department should go beyond holding a probe and give the lawless officers a punishment that should prove detrimental for others who resort to similar acts of atrocities. We reiterate that the journalist fraternity isn't the enemies of police but it has always proved supplementary to the force that maintains law and order. We urge Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to intervene immediately and ensure that the culprits are brought to book and punished."
In addition, Mumbai Press Club chairman Dharmendra Jore in a statement said that the police authorities should sensitise the officials.
"We are not your enemies. We are messengers. Fights with media don't yield anything. Merely looking into the matter won't suffice. Take those two unruly officers to the task," Jore demanded.
Apart from the Mumbai Press Club, TV Journalists Association also condemned the incident, saying its members raised the issue with Deshmukh at a press conference later in the day. He has assured that he would look into the allegations against the police, it said.
(With Agency Inputs)