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Amritpal Singh Case: Punjab Police Knocks on the Doors of Journalists

As the search for Amritpal Singh continues, many journalists claim they are facing intimidation from the police.

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As Punjab Police’s hunt for Amritpal Singh continues, many journalists claim that they are facing intimidation from the police. Those who have been paid a visit by the police include faces of the state’s major web platforms – from Harsharan Kaur, Jasveer Singh, Ratandeep Dhaliwal to Jagjit Singh Panjoli. 

The Punjab Police, on Friday, 24 March, visited the paternal home of director and chief editor of Khalis TV, Harsharan Kaur, in Chappian Wali village of the Mansa district at around 5:30 am. She said about the visit,

”The police had come to my home at around 5 am in the morning and asked about my whereabouts. As I have recently married and moved out of my home, I was not there. The police said they wanted to detain me but my family asked them to show warrants. They wanted to search my house as we have a CCTV camera at home. They could not do it.” 
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She further added,

”They called my brother to the police station but when he went there, the SHO (station house officer) was not present. My brother talked to the Mansa SSP (senior superintendent of police), Nanak Singh, who told my brother to inform them when I get back to my paternal home.”

Harsharan says that her family is yet to get over the trauma of her father’s untimely death. 

The Punjab Police have labelled the story of Harsharan’s ordeal as concocted and even claimed so from its official Twitter handle. The state police warned those who are sharing the alleged fake news, ”We advise you all to stay away from rumour mongers and verify news before sharing on social media platforms.” 

Harsharan, who has worked with media houses like Zee and PTC News in the past, claims that her family has CCTV footage of the police visit and she is ready to share it at an appropriate time. She has also written to the Editors’ Guild of India and the Press Council of India.

Other Journalists Claim 'Visits' by the Police

Rattandeep Dhaliwal is another prominent Punjabi journalist whose home in Bathinda's Rampura Phul was visited by the police. Rattan runs the platform 'Talk with Ratan' on social media in which he interviews major personalities from Punjab. He said,

”Punjab Police came to my house and asked details about my family, family members, property, family of in-laws and source of income. They talked to me and said that my number was in the list of people who were talking to close associates of Amritpal.”
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Rattan has been working in the news industry for the last six years. He made his name by working with another web channel, RMB. He claims that he was in touch with Amritpal’s associates before the police launched a campaign against him as he was planning to interview him. He adds,

"I told them that the day the police launched their campaign against Amritpal, I was supposed to interview Amritpal and was in touch with Papalpreet, who according to the police is on the run with Amritpal. Later, I even interviewed Amritpal’s uncle Harjit Singh before he surrendered to the police on phone, but that video automatically got deleted from my Facebook page.“

He is not sure how the video of Harjit Singh's interview got deleted from Facebook.

Journalists Claim That Police Demands Aadhaar Card, Passport and Bank Account Number

Jagjit Singh Panjoli is another journalist who is associated with the web news channel Unmute. Panjoli’s home was visited by the Punjab Police on Saturday on Saturday. Panjoli told The Quint,

"Punjab Police came to my home and demanded my Aadhaar card, passport number, photo and bank account number. As I was not home, my family informed me about it.”

He further said,

"Police told me that I had talked to someone from Moga. The only person I had talked to someone from Moga in the last few days was Kamaljit Brar, that too after I interviewed him at Sidhu Moosewala’s commemoration ceremony. A few days earlier, Brar had met Amritpal.”

Brar is the former Congress president of the Moga district and was expelled from the party for his anti-party activities. Reportedly, Brar had given a statement in favour of Amritpal and against the State Congress President Raja Warring. Brar’s father Darshan Brar was three-time MLA from Jagraon and Bagha Purana constituency of Punjab.

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Apart from these other journalists, the police is reported to have visited the home of another independent journalists – Rajinder Singh Sabhran and Jasveer Singh Muktsar. Muktsar had called this journalist from his mother’s phone and said,

”Punjab Police took me to the police station and took my own and wife’s mobile phone from us. They said that the police wants to get forensics of the phones done. I have been told that I was posting wrong information on Facebook but my Facebook account is restricted from the last few months.”

'Media Has the Right to Report': Mulepur SHO

Ranveer Singh Rana, Deputy news editor of News 18, too claimed that his village in Fatehgarh Sahib district was visited by the Punjab Police. According to him, the state police asked the villagers about him and his family.

Harwinder Singh, SHO of Bassi Pathana, refused to give a clear answer on the police visit to Ranveer Rana’s village. Harwinder said, "He is a good man. I know Ranbir Rana and have met him once. Normally, we go to the villages and meet the sarpanches.” 

Talking about Jagjit Singh Panjoli, SHO Gurdeep Singh of Mulepur police station said,

”We were not aware that Jagjit was a journalist. We visited his home due miscommunication. In fact, Jagjit’s father is also a retired policeman. The media has the right to report and we have cleared the same with Jagjit Singh.” 

Jaswinder Singh, Sub-Inspector, Narcotics (Bathinda), who visited the home of Rattandeep Dhaliwal, refused to talk on phone and disconnected the call saying this reporter should meet him in-person to get his version.

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All the phone calls and messages to the Punjab Police IGP (HQ) Sukhchain Gill, who regularly briefs media on Amritpal Saga, went unanswered. SSP Nanak Singh Mansa too did not attend phone calls when we tried to talk to him about Harsharan Kaur. Phone calls to to SSP Muktsar Harmanbir Gill talk about Jasveer Singh Muktsar went unanswered. 

Earlier, social media handles, including Twitter accounts, of a number of Punjabi journalists were withheld in India.

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Topics:  Punjab   Journalists   Digital Media 

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