“Police Detained Me While I Was Reporting on Kathputli Demolition”

The police had no doubt that I was a journalist just doing my job. But that was precisely their problem.

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On 30 October, I went to Delhi’s Kathputli Colony after I was told that the settlement was being demolished. A source from the colony told me that police had stormed in that morning, bringing with them JCB machines to demolish their home. He said that some angry people were throwing stones at the police.

I knew that the threat of demolition had been looming over the puppeteers and other settlers of Kathputli Colony for some years now. When I got there, I did not see any stone-pelting. I saw people scrambling over all the rubble, trying to come to terms with what had happened.

We heard gunshots. Tear gas was used. Amid this chaos, I tried interviewing the slum dwellers. Suddenly, two DDA officials approached me and tried to snatch my phone. When I resisted, they asked the police to take me away.

A policeman grabbed my neck, choking me as he dragged me away. He pushed me to the ground and kicked me, saying I had no business being there, no right to listen to these people. I was detained at the Ranjith Nagar police station for over six hours. There, the policemen beat me up with an industrial rubber pipe, all the while questioning my purpose and my right to be present at a demolition site.

Despite showing them my press card and all the videos I had recorded, the police did not even let me make a phone call. They kept taunting me.

Bahut shaunk hai na reporting ka, ab karo reporting... Tumara ghar tud raha tha kya. Tumhe kya padi thi in keedon ke beech mein gusne ki... Tumhe hi jaana tha in logoon ke beech, abh inke saath yahin sado.

The police had no doubt that I was a journalist just doing my job. But that was precisely their problem.

(Click here to read Kshitij Kumar’s blog on the incident at Kathputli Colony.)

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam & Sandeep Suman

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