A woman constable and a head constable of the Delhi police were suspended on Sunday, after the duo allegedly snatched a camera out of a photo-journalist’s hands, in the midst of the JNU protests.
ANI reports that the photojournalist, who was covering the protests, had filed a complaint against the two, following which a case was registered and investigation launched.
The report quotes the Delhi police as saying that the two constables were suspended on the basis of their “unprofessional conduct” whilst attempting to control the crowd during the protest march.
"On the basis of the preliminary findings of vigilance enquiry for the unprofessional conduct of mishandling the journalist's camera during crowd control, one woman constable of the Delhi Armed Police and one head constable (male) have been placed under suspension," Madhur Verma, Delhi Police PRO told PTI.
Delhi Police Apologizes for Attack on Journalist
The Delhi Police had earlier on Saturday tendered an apology and said that an investigation has been initiated into the matter and further action will be taken accordingly.
The journalist had filed a complaint against Delhi Cantt Station House Officer (SHO) on Friday, alleging that the police official molested her during the protest.
We have taken strong cognisance of the matter and an inquiry has been ordered. Delhi police and me personally have always maintained that the media is an integral part of our democracy. We have always provided access to information and at our end have always tried to ensure media personnel covering the police don’t face any problems while doing their job.Delhi Police PRO Madhur Verma
Calling the incident ‘unfortunate’, Verma tender an apology and called for constructive and corrective measures.
“Yesterday’s incident was a very unfortunate one. Our deepest apologies to the media. Our intention wasn’t to obstruct the media from doing its job. In the confusion, some female police personnel mistook the photojournalist as a protestor. While that is still not an excuse, I would like to stress it was completely by accident,” he said.
He further requested the protesters to call off the protest on Saturday and asked them to meet him at the PRO office to resolve the matter.
“I would request all of you to call off the protest at 3 [PM]...Instead, let’s meet for coffee at 3 at the PRO office at PHQ to address all your grievances. What has happened is very unfortunate and therefore let’s take constructive and corrective measures,” he added.
Journalist Associations Demand Action Against Police
On Saturday, journalist associations demanded strict action against Delhi Police personal involved in the assault. In a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, the Press Club Of India, the Indian Women's Press Corps, the Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs in India said journalists were beaten and molested despite telling police that they are from the media.
Condemning the assault, the associations said two women journalists were roughed up; one of whom was intimidated and threatened by women police officers and even more shockingly, the other journalist was molested by Station House Officer Vidyadhar Singh. A third male journalist has his arm in a sling after being beaten up by policemen.
They said the journalists were physically assaulted as they tried to take pictures of the protest, while police snatched their equipment and did not return it.
“Despite repeated pleas that they were journalists and even furnishing their identity cards, they were not spared. We demand that strict action against the police persons involved and the registration of FIRs on the complaints of assault and molestation, both of which have been filed at the respective police stations,” the associations said.
The protest march, held on Friday, was being carried out by the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTU) and students demanding suspension of Professor Atul Johri, who has been accused of sexual harassment. They were also protesting against the removal of several department heads and a coordinator for not complying with the university's new attendance rules.
As the hundreds of protesting students and teachers from the University marched towards Parliament, the Delhi Police undertook a baton charge and fired water canons on the agitators near the INA Market, where the assault happened.
(With inputs from wires)