The Arunachal Age

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One arrested for assault on journalist ; Media bodies, Orgs demand stringent action

ITANAGAR, JUN 30:

The police on Tuesday arrested a 34-year old man, security cum vigilance officer of M/s SMS Smelters Ltd, Lekhi, in connection with the physical assault on journalist Hofe Dada of digital media outlet Gyoloo News , whilst on duty.

Capital Superintendent of Police Tumme Amo informed that the accused was arrested from Naharlagun at around 11.30 am in response to the FIR filed by Dada at Nirjuli police station.

Though the offence is bailable, the police will ensure that such incident does not happen to anyone in the future , SP said while assuring transparent investigation on the case.

Dada had gone to the SMS Smelters Ltd Salasar factory on Monday, to do a report on it as it is categorised under Red (highly polluting industries), having maximum production capacity of 1000M/T annually. Set up in 2004, it is in the heart of the thickly populated township at Lekhi village at Naharlagun (Itanagar), spews out plume of smoke from its chimneys visible from miles and has impacted the lives of residents of Lekhi, Model &Lekhi village and Nirjuli areas.

Dada was accosted by the four men and threatened not to report or else he would meet the same fate as senior journalist Tongam Rina, who was shot at her office in Itanagar in 2012. He was also allegedly slapped by one of the men without any provocation.

Addressing media persons here, SP requested the public to inform his office of any kind of illegal activity being executed in the Smelting factory. He said, he would personally investigate the case.

Meanwhile, Nirjuli Police station officer-in-charge Minli Geyi, informed that the police has received counter FIR from the accused on Tuesday. He said the FIR was lodged by the public relations officer of Smelting factory accusing the journalist of trespassing in the factory compound.

The matter is presently under investigation and we will look into both the complaints , Geyi said.

Condemning the incident, several organizations of the state including media bodies have demanded stringent action against the culprits.

Joining its affiliate, the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General Sabina Inderjit in a statement said that attempts to intimidate the media in the state are growing and the government must ensure safety of journalists.

It s clear that the four men blocked Dada from carrying out his duty and it was an attempt to gag freedom of press , the statement read.

APUWJ president Amar Sangno in a press statement has also urged the state police to take stringent action against the culprits for assaulting the journalist.

Drawing the state police attention towards veteran journalist Rina shooting incident, Sangno expressed concerned over the repeated reference to the Tongam Rina shooting incident by criminals and stated that such references by criminals against journalists reflects how criminals undermines the laws.

Tongam Rina did not get justice from shooting incident which has emboldened the perpetrators to target media persons , Sangno said further expressing gratitude on behalf of the state press fraternity to the police for apprehending the main accused within such short period.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) has also condemned the incident and demanded exemplary punishment to the culprits.

Despite facing serious hardships and lack of additional benefits, people associated with press & media have been diligently doing their job. Over the years, press and media people have been repeatedly abused, trolled and attacked while on duty. This has to stop , AAPSU s statement read.

The All Nyishi Youth Association (ANYA) termed the incident unfortunate and inappropriate . In its statement, it appealed the capital police to investigate the matter thoroughly and award exemplary punishment to accused if found guilty.

Condemning the assault on the young journalist, the All East Kameng District Students Union (AEKDSU) has demanded immediate arrest of the attackers of free speech .

The Arunachal Pradesh Women s Welfare Society (APWWS) expressed concerned over the incident and said that media should be allowed to do its work without any threat or intimidation from any corner.

The Government of Arunachal should ensure free and fair environment for reporting. We urge the police to arrest all the culprits involved and to file a credible case so that such assaults are not repeated. There have been many instances of assault on media in the state but none of the perpetrators of violence have been arrested. We request the authority to kindly expedite all the necessary steps to give justice to media people , APWWS in its statement said.

Regarding the emission of toxic gas from the SMS Smelters Ltd, APWWS asked the Arunachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board to take up the issue seriously to prevent further public health hazard in the surrounding area.

Dream for United Arunachal (DUA) in its statement said that Dada was assaulted for passionate journalism not pseudo journalism .

This wasn't the way he was supposed to be treated which should not be tolerated. Respect honesty and true journalism , it said.

The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) too condemned the assault on the journalist. The attack on the fourth pillar of democracy is nowhere acceptable , its statement read.

The Rajiv Gandhi University Students Union (RGUSU) termed the incident barbaric and inhuman . Culprits must be put behind the bar and booked under appropriate sections of law. This act is murder in disguise to the fourth pillar of democracy , RGUSU president Dopum Sonam wrote in his Facebook page.

 

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