In light of the terrifying mob attacks on multiple women journalists who were on their way to report on Sabarimala Temple opening its doors to all, including a 100-strong mob attacking Republic TV's South Bureau Chief Pooja Prasanna in Nilakkal, the Network of Women in Media, India has released a statement condemning the attack and urging the civil society at Kerala to make sure that journalists are not harmed in the process of doing their jobs at the location, while the National Commission for Women (NCW) has also issued a statement.
The following is the statement of the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI):
Stop attacks on journalists doing their job at Sabarimala
The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) vehemently denounces the attacks on journalists, including several women journalists, at Nilakkal/Sabarimala. Saritha S Balan of The Newsminute, Pooja Prasanna of Republic TV, Radhika Ramaswamy of CNN-News 18 and Maushumi Singh of India Today, were attacked on Wednesday, while attempting to cover the situation at the entry point to the Sabarimala hill temple, scheduled to open for monthly rituals this evening. Yesterday several journalism students were stopped by protesters, mainly female, who were stopping and screening all vehicles bound for Pampa. It is up to the government to see that more names are not added to the list and that mob frenzy is not allowed to interfere with freedom of expression, the public's right to information and the media's responsibility to report on events and issues of public concern.
The opening of the temple today marks the first time after the Supreme Court handed down its verdict allowing women of all ages to pray at the hill temple. Until then girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age were not permitted to pray at the hill temple. Hundreds of protesters opposing the verdict have been camping at Nilackal over the past few days. On Tuesday they began stopping and checking vehicles, including state-run buses, and forcibly turning back female passengers in the hitherto forbidden age group. Today they turned violent, attacking journalists, including women, who were there to do their jobs.
We demand that the Chief Minister and government of Kerala take immediate action against the agitators who let violent assailants loose on journalists, obstructing them from doing their duty. It is incumbent on the government to create a secure environment for journalists to report from Pamba and nearby areas on an issue that is of interest and concern to the public. The government must immediately ensure the safety of journalists and assure the media that the lives of reporters are not in danger.
The NWMI condemn the attacks and urges support from civil society in Kerala to make sure that the media is able to cover this controversial issue without fear and that journalists are not harmed in the process of doing their jobs.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women has written to the DGP and State Police Chief of Kerala regarding the attacks on multiple women journalists in Kerala on their way to the Sabarimala temple.
"The Commission is seriously concerned about the reported incident. Moreover, it is the duty of the Police to protect and provide safety and security for women. It is, therefore, directed that the Kerala Police should provide sufficient security to all women devotees of Sabarimala temple and women media personnel. Considering the gravity of the matter, it is further requested that appropriate stringent actions may be taken against people who are taking laws into their hands and a detailed action is taken report in the matter may be intimated to the Commission at an early date," reads the statement released by Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women to the DGP of Kerala.
Here is the full letter: