15 media persons injured in attacks during Bengal local polls
Kolkata: As many as 15 journalists, photojournalists and TV camerapersons sustained injuries when they were assaulted on Saturday while covering the polls to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation in the city’s posh satellite township.
Calling the attacks “preplanned”, news channels Zee 24 Ghanta and ABP Ananda claimed “miscreants harboured by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress” carried out the assaults.
While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered a probe, the opposition tore into the Trinamool for the attacks on the media.
Two journalists of ABP Ananda — Aritrik Bhattacharya and Prakash Sinha — and the channel’s cameraperson Partha Sarathi Chakraborty were attacked by a mob while they were reporting about booth capturing in ward No.31 in Bidhannagar area.
24 Ghanta journalist Bikram Das and cameraperson Mintu Basak were also injured in the attack at the same spot.
“After we recorded how a booth was being jammed, a gang of goons attacked me and the cameraperson, beating us mercilessly. They even snatched away the camera,” said a profusely bleeding Bhattacharya.
Chakraborty was beaten with sticks and rods, and was rendered unconscious, the channel claimed.
Basak, who was hit on the head with a helmet, was admitted to a private hospital.
A woman reporter with 24 Ghanta claimed that a gang of people who had illegally swarmed inside a polling booth threatened to “rape” her and constantly hurled abuses.
Other journalists who were subjected to similar assault include Tanmay Dutta Biswas and Sharmin Begum of Kolkata TV, Arka Dey and Dipankar Jana of Newstime, and photojournalist Sanjay Chatterjee of The Telegraph, Atirath Ghosh, Tuhin Das Chandra, Suraj Prasad Gupta of ETV News Bangla and Souvik Dey of Ananda Bazar Patrika.
TV grabs aired by ABP Ananda and 24 Ghanta showed Bidhannagar legislator Sujit Bose of the Trinamool was present at the time of the attacks.
Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Jawed Shamim said police were looking into the matter.
“We are looking into the matter… if anybody lodges a formal complaint, we will take action,” he said.
Condemning the attacks on the media, Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the chief minister has ordered a probe into the matter.
“The administration will look into the reasons, the circumstances that led to these incidents. We will also find out the agent provocateurs, and look into whether any political party or any other interest group incited the violence,” said Chatterjee, who is also the state education minister.
The CPI-M and the Congress slammed the Trinamool.
“Reporting is their livelihood, it is their duty to serve news to the people. Why is the Trinamool so afraid when these journalists are serving the truth? Why these hellish attacks on the journalists, the people are seeing it all,” said CPI-M’s mayoral candidate and former state minister Asim Dasgupta.
“The polls today were completely farce and the entire state witnessed how the Trinamool goons robbed the people’s right to vote and how media was threatened and the journalists assaulted.
“The polls should be cancelled and conducted afresh under the supervision of the Election Commission of India,” state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
The Kolkata Press Club demanded immediate police action and exemplary punishment for the assaulters.
“It is highly condemnable that such a large number of mediapersons were attacked on a single day, but condemning will not suffice. Police will have to immediately take action and ensure exemplary punishment for the assaulters,” secretary Anindya Sengupta said, adding that the press club would seek the intervention of higher authorities in the matter.