Amid heavy protests in Kerala over women's entry in Sabarimala on Wednesday, 17 October, multiple women journalists covering the protests against women’s entry have been attacked. The protest, that was originally supposed to be a Gandhian one, has turned nasty, with multiple reports of both women and women journalists being attacked.
Pooja Prasanna of Republic TV, Saritha Balan of The News Minute, Radhika Ramaswamy of CNN News18, Libi CS, a journalist from Kerala, and Mausami Singh and Shalini Lobo of India Today, all were attacked in separate incidents since 16 October while covering the Sabarimala protests.
While Lobo was heckled by the mob on Tuesday, the rest of the women journalists were attacked by the mob a day after.
Just a few hours before the Sabarimala temple gates open at 5 pm, women walking towards it seeking entry are being made to turn back and are being attacked by the anti-women Sabarimala crowd.
Republic TV's South Bureau Chief Pooja Prasanna was attacked along with her crew by over 100 men at Nilakkal.
“We were attacked when we were inside a police van. Right now, we’re being shifted from the location. Stones are being pelted. Several police personnel’s lathis were snatched from them.”Pooja Prasanna told the Republic TV
She also said that before they tried to leave Nilakkal, they had filed a written appeal to the police on record requesting adequate protection.
Prasanna narrated how stones were being pelted at The News Minute journalist Saritha Balan while she spoke to Republic TV before the connection went bad.
Saritha Balan was on the bus to cover the protests when the bus was 'inspected' by Karma Samithi, and Balan was physically attacked and verbally abused.
According to TNM, she was kicked in the spine while the mob photographed her and verbally abused her even after the police tried protecting her.
“If they did not want reporters to cover the protest, why did the BJP invite the media for coverage?”Saritha Balan, The News Minute
Radhika Ramaswamy of CNN News18 was attacked along with her crew, and the mob broke their car windows.
“We were surrounded by people. They just told us to leave, we told them we were leaving, we started going in reverse, and the mob started surrounding us.”Radhika Ramaswamy, CNN News18
"Everbody got violent, started throwing stones, broke our car windows, went on for a couple of minutes. The entire car was surrounded and it was difficult to reverse," she told her channel.
Radhika also said that she wasn't sure if the people belonged to any political party and that the police were initially somewhere behind the scenes of the attack.
“At one point I did not know if I should stay inside the cab or get out to be safe.”Radhikha Ramaswamy
An FIR has been registered against unknown people for the attack on her.
India Today's journalist Shalini Lobo was attacked in a bus on Tuesday, 16 October, while covering the protest when a group of women devotees started manhandling her. Mausami Singh of the same channel was attacked along with her crew while reporting on 17 October.
“They tried to break our camera. We told them we haven’t been to the temple.”Mausami Singh, journalist, India Today, told her channel
She said that the police had to come to their rescue.
NDTV’s reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu were heckled and asked to leave the site of protests.
Apart from Libi CS, no journalist had any intention of entering the temple and were just doing their job. All of them were five kilometres away from the temple when they were attacked.