This Article is From Jan 31, 2021

Delhi Police Detain Two Journalists At Farmers' Protest Site In Singhu

Dharmendra Singh was released after he signed an undertaking, while Mandeep Punia was held overnight and presented before a magistrate at Tihar this morning

Mr Punia was presented before a magistrate at the Tihar Court Complex this morning

New Delhi:

Mandeep Punia, a freelance journalist detained by police late Saturday night while covering the farmers' protests at Singhu, has been sent to 14-day judicial custody, according to his lawyer.

His bail hearing has been set for tomorrow, the lawyer added.

Mandeep Punia and Dharmendra Singh, another journalist, were detained on the Delhi-Haryana border - for allegedly "misbehaving" with the cops - as they tried to cover the farmers' weeks-long protest against the centre's agriculture laws.

Mr Singh was released after he signed an undertaking, but Mr Punia was held overnight.

This morning he was presented before a magistrate at Delhi's Tihar court, after being charged under multiple IPC sections, including those relating to the use criminal force on a public servant.

The detention of the journalists - coming after cases against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and others - for comments on the Republic Day tractor rally violence - and one against Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of the news website The Wire, has triggered a furious outcry.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was among those to speak out; the Lok Sabha MP tweeted a video that apparently showed Mr Punia being taken away by a large group of policemen.

"Those who fear the truth arrest true journalists," Mr Gandhi wrote in Hindi.

The party's General Secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the BJP of "trampling upon the voice of farmer" and said "the more you suppress, the more voices will rise against your atrocities".

The Congress said it "strongly condemned" the case against Mr Tharoor and the other journalists.

Today, reacting to the case against Mr Punia, the Press Club of India and the Press Association demanded his release and said no journalist ought to be disturbed in the pursuit of his/her duty.

"Such crackdowns impinge on the media's right to report freely and interferes with our right to freedom of expression, and freedom of the press as guaranteed by the Constitution of India," a joint statement by several press bodies said, according to news agency PTI.

The Editors Guild of India also condemned cases against journalists covering the farmers' protest.

So far, the police have filed 38 cases and arrested 84 people in connection with the violence on Republic Day, news agency ANI reported.

With input from ANI, PTI