He was ‘reporting’ on stir against alleged rape and murder of a teenage Dalit girl
Delhi Police on Saturday charged a journalist and nine others of criminal conspiracy for allegedly protesting outside Model Town police station on Friday. Six of the 10 accused are students.
The protest was staged by students, activists and locals of Gurmandi demanding lodging of an FIR into the alleged rape and murder of a teenage Dalit girl — a domestic helper who was found dead at her employer’s house in Model Town.
The police have registered an FIR under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 3 of the Epidemic Act.
The police alleged that over 15-20 men and women had gathered outside the police station and were not wearing masks or maintaining social distance. They also allegedly refused to leave even after being told to disperse. The police had detained 10 persons, including The Caravan magazine’s journalist Ahan Penkar.
In a statement, The Caravan said that Mr. Penkar was reporting when Assistant Commissioner of Police Ajay Kumar “kicked and slapped” him at the police station.
“Mr. Penkar had repeatedly told the police that he was a journalist and prominently displayed his press card,” the statement read.
The magazine also said the police forcibly took Mr. Penkar’s phone and deleted all videos and photos that he had recorded while reporting. “Mr. Penkar was detained for nearly four hours. In the assault, he suffered injuries on his nose, shoulder, back and ankle,” they added.
Responding to the allegations, the police said that Mr. Penkar was protesting and was detained along with the others, and later released.
“He later claimed he was a reporter and alleged misbehaviour by the police. The allegation made by Mr. Penkar is false and is only made with the intention of escalating the situation. The police action is bona fide,” they said.
The police said that the girl was reported dead on October 4 and her post-mortem was conducted on October 8, which revealed that the girl took her own life.
“No foul play has come in the investigation so far,” the police said, adding that the protest was staged “to put undue pressure on local police and tried to give the incident a different narrative”.
In August, three scribes from The Caravan were allegedly beaten, assaulted and sexually harassed in Gonda while reporting a story around the Delhi riots.
“The frequency with which The Caravan reporters are being targeted makes one wonder if there’s a calculated design behind such attacks,” said Vinod K. Jose, the executive editor of the publication.