The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Monday demanded "strict action" against an Uttar Pradesh government official for assaulting a journalist in Unnao district of the state last week. "Concrete steps" should be taken to improve the environment for independent journalism in Uttar Pradesh, the guild said in a statement, adding that it was deeply disturbed by the continuing trend of heavy-handedness by the authorities in the state with respect to journalists and the media.
The statement noted that Chief Development Officer Divyanshu Patel assaulted Krishna Tiwari in Unnao on July 10 when the journalist was covering polling for the block pramukh elections. The officer later apologised to the journalist for the incident.
"In a video that has gone viral on social media, Krishna Tiwari, a local journalist, is seen being beaten up by Divyanshu Patel (CDO), as well as reportedly some BJP workers," the Editors Guild said. The guild termed the incident highly condemnable and actionable, and said even though that CDO apologized to the journalists, the attitude of heavy-handedness by the administration is hurting the democratic rights of the media, which becomes all the more crucial given that the state goes into polls next year.
EGI demands strict action be taken against the official and that concrete steps be taken to improve the environment for independent journalism in the state, it added. The editors body said the latest incident of assault on a journalist by a state authority has come against the backdrop of increased persecution of journalists in Uttar Pradesh, "as the administration has punished, penalized, and incarcerated journalists in an effort to intimidate them from freely reporting on crimes, state excess, and the management of the pandemic".
Siddique Kappan, a journalist who was arrested while reporting on the rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras in October 2020, continues to remain in jail under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, despite several appeals by the family and the civil society to afford him a fair trial and treatment, the EGI added.