Two journalists associated with media group ChalChitra Abhiyaan were allegedly threatened and stopped from reporting on the impact of the hike in Goods and Services Tax (GST) on food items in a village in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat on Wednesday, 20 July.
ChalChitra Abhiyaan founder Nakul Singh Sawhney said that the two journalists, Shakib Rangrezz and Vishal Stonewall, were threatened by a man and told not to speak to villagers.
He also claimed that the man who threatened them was a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter, and that he tried to snatch their equipment.
"Chalchitra Abhiyaan team was attacked an hour back in Kishanpur Birali village in Baghpat, UP while reporting on impact of GST on food items. A BJP supporter tried to snatch equipment, got violent. This is the state of press freedom & ground reporting in India," Sawhney said in a tweet.
'Such Incidents Have Happened 3-4 Times Before'
Sawhney said that such incidents against his teammates had taken place three-four times before, but the media group had not gone public regarding them. However, they decided to describe what had happened because it was becoming a pattern, he added.
He also said that many of the group's journalists were from minority and vulnerable communities, and were thus "easy targets."
Describing the incident, Rangrezz, one of the reporters who was allegedly threatened, said, that the man who harassed them "said we could not do this journalism there and that we should go. He tried to snatch our camera and stopped us from speaking to people. He snatched our mic, but I took it back. He threatened us saying that we had better leave or he would call other people. We were stopped from doing journalism," NewsLaundry reported.
Stonewall, the other journalist, said, "The man came on a bike and began asking us who we were and snatched our equipment. We explained our work but he still misbehaved with us. He told us we were telling people the wrong thing, and spreading misinformation about the government. He said that we should not report there."
Meanwhile, the Baghpat police responded to Sawhney's tweet and asked him to file a written complaint.
"You can send your written complaint to Ramala police station. Legal action will be taken on your complaint as per the rules. Baghpat Police assures you," they said in a tweet in Hindi.
CPJ, DIGIPUB Condemn Incident
The incident was also condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which urged the police to probe the matter and take action against the alleged perpetrator.
DIGIPUB also condemned the incident and said that the "repeated pattern of intimidation and physical assaults on journalists in Uttar Pradesh must be halted."
(With inputs from Newslaundry.)