A group of protesting media persons in Arunachal Pradesh last night withdrew its pen-down strike after the accused in the journalists' assault case surrendered before the police.
The accused Hina Tada, the personal security officer (PSO) of Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy, walked into the police station armed with an anticipatory bail granted by district and session court judge and surrendered before the investigating officer. Tada was later released after preliminary questioning.
The Capital Complex Additional district magistrate had issued a non-bailable warrant against Tada on Monday. Journalists took to the street on December 16 last, blacked-out portion of newspapers for three days and resorted to pen-down strike from December 19-21 after two female journalists, Appu Gapak and Nyapi Bomjen, were allegedly assaulted by the PSO on December 12 when they were collecting news about an accident.
The APUWJ and APC said that in accordance with an earlier decision, newspaper houses in the state would boycott official press releases, functions and programmes for one month, Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) and Arunachal Press Club (APC) said in a statement. During the period, government tariff for official advertisement would be ignored and media houses would accept only commercial terms and conditions.
The APC and APWUJ, in a joint communiqué alleged that police knew the identity of the person within 24 hours of the incident, but kept denying knowing anything about him.
The police accepted that they know the accused only after the MP called up one of the senior journalists to inform that accused was attached as his personal security officer and he had directed the SP to arrest him immediately, the statement said.
Meanwhile, both the organisations have raised question about the manner in which the accused was granted bail by the court. "It raises question as to why neither the case diary nor the investigating officer of the case were called by the judge before granting the anticipatory bail, given the fact that the accused has been on the run since December 12 night after assaulting two female journalists," APC president Jarpum Gamlin said in a statement.
The press fraternity also demanded that the case be treated as special in the light of continuous attacks on the fourth pillar of democracy and be put on fast track court for speedy trial.