Senior Chhattisgarh journalist beaten up in Kanker district of Bastar region
A senior journalist working with a local daily in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region was beaten up publicly and allegedly threatened with dire consequences when he went to a police station to register a case against people who had beaten up another journalist allegedly over some news report on Saturday.
Kamal Shukla (55), editor of Bhumkal Samachar, a Hindi daily published from Kanker district was attacked in the evening. Shukla is now on a hunger strike alleging involvement of local Congress leaders and workers in the assault.
Police have rejected Shukla’s allegations and claimed that the violence was the result of a conflict between two groups of journalists and cases have been registered by both sides.
Shukla is one of the leading voices demanding a journalists’ protection law in Chhattisgarh, promised in the Congress party’s manifesto. He has also raised voice against alleged atrocities against tribals and journalists in Bastar region on several occasions.
“I am sitting on a hunger strike in front of the district collector’s office (to protest) against the violence against me,” said Shukla talking to HT.
“Police are falsely saying that the incident was the result of a fight between two groups of journalists. The accused, who they are calling a journalist, is the leader of a workers’ union and runs a newspaper. The other accused are a Congress leader and his supporters,” Sukhla said.
He went on to say that he was attacked in front of the cops, who did nothing to save him.
“A journalist Satish Yadav was beaten up badly by Congress workers on Saturday and I went to the police station to register a case against the accused. Yadav was writing consistently about the Congress leader, whose wife is president of Kanker municipal corporation. When we were registering a case, some goons came and started to beat me up in public. The police officer present refused to help me,” said Shukla.
He further alleged that some Congress corporators and aides of local Congress MLA, including one Gaffar Memon were involved in the attack.
“Memon also brandished a pistol inside the police station and everyone had seen it,” said Shukla.
However, Gaffar Memon, lodged a counter complaint and alleged that Shukla had threatened him with dire consequences over payment for advertisements in the newspaper.
P Sundarraj, IG Bastar, told HT that FIR has been registered and action will be taken after investigation.
“The conflict was between two groups of journalists. The fight took place between Shukla, who is the editor of Bhumkal Samachar and the editor of Dainik Shrambindu, Ganesh Tiwari, and others including Jitendra Thakur, Makbool Khan and Gaffar Memon. Shukla’s medical examination has been done and a case has been registered against the accused under section 294, 506, 323 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and investigation is going on,” a written statement from IG Bastar stated.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said no Congress leader was involved in the attack.
“The persons involved in the fighting have no relation with the Congress and the person involved in the violence had been expelled from the Congress. The accused is an independent corporator who fought against the Congress. We believe that strict action should be taken against the culprits,” said Trivedi.
State unit of the BJP condemned the incident and alleged that the Congress party is not willing to listen to any criticism of its government in the state.
“This is gunda-raj of Congress workers in the state. The people of the state are victims of this and now journalists are also being beaten up by them,” said senior BJP leader Sacchidanand Upasane.