Delhi Police Books 25 JNU Students, But Refuse to File FIR Against Officer who Molested Journalist
March 26, 2018
The Delhi Police has registered a first information report (FIR) against 25 Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students who were taking part in a march to Parliament on Friday against alleged lack of administrative action against the varsity professor – Atul Johri – who have been accused of sexual harassment by eight women students, autonomy and compulsory attendance.
However, the city police have not taken any action so far against one of its officer – Vidyadhar Singh – who allegedly molested a female journalist despite the fact that she has already lodged a complaint, alleging that the officer placed his hand on her chest and pushed her away twice.
The 25 protesting students have been learnt to be booked under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The FIR was filed at Sarojini Nagar police station and the case is being investigated by the station house officer, Newsclick has leant. However, the police did not disclose any other details of the case.
The protest march comprising more than 1,000 JNU students, including teachers, was halted by the cops near INA Market before resorting to lathi-charge and water cannons against the demonstrators. Many students suffered injuries in the police assault. As many as 22 students were detained who have been named in the FIR along with three others.
Video clips have emerged showing police personnel purportedly roughing up two female journalists during the march. Journalists who covered the march on Friday said that policewomen threatened and intimidated one of the female journalists and Station House Officer (SHO) Vidyadhar Singh molested another. The police personnel – they said – also beat up a male journalist during the melee.
The police have apologised for the incident but till they had not filed an FIR against Singh, arguing that a departmental inquiry has been initiated against erring officials.
“Two policemen (a head constable from Vasant Kunj (north) police station and a woman constable from Delhi Armed Police) have been placed under suspension for unprofessional conduct,” said Madhur Verma – Crime Branch Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and Public Relation Officer (PRO) of the Delhi Police.
“We have contacted the journalist and will facilitate the return of the camera to her,” he added.
He had earlier said in a statement, “Our deepest apologies to the media. Our intention was not to obstruct the media from doing its job. In some confusion, some female police personnel mistook the photojournalist as a protester. It was completely by accident.”
Delhi Police Special Commissioner Dependra Pathak – who is also the chief spokesperson – refused to file a case, saying the department had initiated an internal inquiry.
The controversy surrounding the police’s high-handedness on JNU students and journalists refused to die down on Monday, with scribes are marching towards the Ministry of Home Affairs from Press Club of India with their demand of an FIR and arrest of the SHO who allegedly molested the female reporter.
In a joint statement, Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association and Federation of Press Clubs demanded immediate action against the erring police personnel.
“We will petition Home Minister Rajnath Singh over assaults on journalists. We will demand from him a national level journalist protection law as a model law which states can adopt or an advisory from the centre to all states to consider such a law given the rising crimes against journalists in India,” said senior journalist Aditi Tandon of the Indian Women’s Press Corps.
In fact, she said, Maharashtra last year became the first Indian state to pass this law which other states can easily emulate. The Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, 2017 was passed in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council on April 7.
Any incident of violence against media persons or damage or loss of property of media persons or media institutions is now punishable in the state. Anyone who commits or provokes the commission of any act of violence against a journalist would be punished with imprisonment extending up to three years and fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000 or both. Besides, offenders shall be liable to pay compensation for damage or loss of the property as well as liable to reimburse medical expenditure incurred by the victim journalist. Such as breaking of a camera, etc. by police personnel.
The Act says the offence would be cognisable and non-bailable. It covers reporters, correspondents, editors, news editors, sub-editors, feature writers, proofreaders, copy testers, cartoonists and photojournalists from all registered newspapers, online media, news channels, news-based electronic media and news station establishment. Branch offices and printing presses have also been treated as parts of media houses.
First published in Newsclick.Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.
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