Guwahati: News18 Assam-North East journalist Emmy C Lawbei was brutally beaten up by Assam police on Saturday while out on an assignment to cover the protest by students on the Assam-Mizoram border.
Lawbei sustained grievous injuries on her shoulder and back. She was immediately rushed to Bairabi Hospital for primary treatment.
Lawbei shared her ordeal in a Facebook post. “I was travelling from Aizawl at 6 am along with other reporters. All the journalists were ahead of the students. There was some verbal exchange followed by lathi charge. Police started chasing us, beating everyone on the way,” she posted.
In her post, Lawbei said that police kept beating them even after they told them that they were journalists and not protesters. “I screamed and said I'm a journalist but they keep beating us. I felt a sharp pain on my butt, back and my arms,” she said.
“Police also opened fire and I was so scared, I started running back towards the car. I saw my other female journalist running towards the car and I followed her. Police keep chasing, screaming and beating us. No matter how many times I shouted I'm a journalist, they turned a deaf ear. I also saw another reporter getting hit on his head, he lost his glasses and ran towards safe area. Another Reporter from Kolasib also got injured. I ran as fast as I could and got into the first car I saw,” she recounted the horror.
“We all returned to Bairabi hospital and got medical treatment,” Lawbei said.
The Assam administration had on March 7, clamped prohibitory orders under section 144, CrPc with immediate effect in certain pockets of Hailakandi district (Assam), bordering Mizoram, apprehending encroachment attempts from the other side.
The prohibitory orders were imposed in Kachurthal and other areas under the Ramnathpur police station, bordering Kolasib district of Mizoram, after Hailakandi Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan and other officers visited the areas.
Lawbei said that police have zero respect for the journalists, they were fully aware that who we were yet they assaulted us. Lawbei called it a “horrible experience” but she hopes that “something positive would come out of the situation”.
There have been many incidents of attacks on journalists in the recent past. In September 2017, two journalists were shot dead in Tripura which raised concerns on the safety of the scribes. Today’s incident has again put a question mark on the freedom of the press in the region.