The Editors Guild of India has condemned the assault on a journalist by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer during the local elections in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. The guild said it was "deeply disturbed" by the continuing trend of heavy-handedness by the state authorities against journalists and media.
"This incident has come against the backdrop of increased persecution of journalists in the state of UP, as the state has punished, penalized and incarcerated journalists in an effort to intimidate them from freely reporting on crimes, state excesses and the management of the pandemic," it said in a statement.
Divyanshu Patel, the Chief Development Officer or CDO of Unnao, was caught on camera chasing down the TV reporter and beating him because he was filmed by the latter allegedly helping kidnap local council members to stop them from voting.
The guild said it finds the incident "highly condemnable and actionable". "Even though the CDO has subsequently apologised to the journalist, this attitude of heavy-handedness by the administration is hurting the democratic rights of the media," it added.
The guild had last month condemned the UP Police's "track record of filing FIRs against journalists to deter them from reporting serious incidents without fear of reprisals".
It hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh citing the example of Hathras, saying, "Siddique Kappan, the journalist who was arrested while reporting on the rape and murder of a Dalit woman in 2020, still remains in jail under UAPA, in spite of several appeals by the family and the civil society to afford him a fair trial".