Five journalists, including two women, were manhandled and attacked by a group of drug addicts near a chawl in Santacruz (E) on Thursday, where they had gone to report on the deaths of four people in a fire caused by a cylinder leak. A report in this paper stated that Manashri Pathak and her cameraperson Narayan Parmar, who work with a Marathi news channel were returning from a chawl in Golibar Nagar, where the fire took place, when a drug addict hurled a stone at Pathak. When confronted by the scribes, other drug addicts joined in and attacked them. Other journalists who tried to intervene were also slapped and beaten up.
This shocking incident which took place in broad daylight, at 12 pm specifically highlights the increasing dangers journalists face while doing their job. In this case, the journalists were not in any potentially ‘dangerous’ place. They were not even covering any potentially ‘sensitive’ story, not that those factors excuse any kind of attacks on newspersons.
It is now important that swift action be taken against those responsible. They should be identified and booked quickly, as these journalists were simply doing their work. To brush away incidents like these as part and parcel of one’s job, with an it-comes-with-the-territory attitude, so to speak, is counterproductive.
Journalism by its very nature and definition, entails risk. When journalists go on assignment covering a story, asking the uncomfortable questions, doing the night beats, digging up the truth, they do so because it is their job to bring you the news. It cannot come at the cost of a limb or a life.
Incidents like these, where scribes are abused with no protest even from bystanders, are all creating a culture of violence and intimidation. This is yet another way of clamping down on the press by creating at atmosphere of intimidation and, indirectly putting pressure on the journalists to stop covering something or reporting on it. The police need to act swiftly and decisively in these cases. Protect the press, let them bring the news to you.