Mic in their hands, cameras on their shoulder, and now an added layer of headgear for several journalists in Raipur, Chhattisgarh as they went to interview BJP leaders on Wednesday, 6th February.
The journalists could be seen wearing a helmet in a high-level meeting of BJP’s district level leaders in Raipur as a unique sign of protest against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s district chief Rajeev Agarwal.
“Whether it’s an event, press conference, meeting, or even taking a sound bite, we won’t stand for a threat to our safety,” Raipur Press Club’s president Damu Amedare told ThePrint.
Amedare also told ThePrint that 500-600 city reporters are protesting by donning helmets and organizing bike rallies, one of which took place on Tuesday.
What made these journalists don helmets in the first place?
Speaking to PTI couple of days back, Suman Pandey, a Raipur-based journalist claimed that he along with a couple of journalists was present at the BJP divisional office to cover an interview regarding the party’s loss in the recent state elections.
During all this, a scuffle ensued and Pandey claimed that some BJP workers jumped on him and started hitting him, as Pandey attempted to record the incident on his phone.
“I was recording a video of the meeting on my mobile phone when suddenly BJP leaders started arguing among themselves over some issue. Rajeev Agarwal and another person, Utkarsh Trivedi, told me to delete the video of the scuffle, which I refused. They then started hitting me and forcefully deleted the video” Pandey told PTI.
Following all the chaos, Pandey informed other journalists about the incident, who then informed the police and thus the arrest for the BJP workers who assaulted Pandey began.
“No resolution was reached. They kept denying that their party members did anything wrong. Even when we showed them a video, they wouldn’t listen” said Amedare.
“Whether or not the helmets will help get the BJP’s attention, Amedare promised that we won’t stop till they meet our demands.”
Does this send a strong message?
We’ve come across tons of incidents recently where we see journalists attacked or sometimes even murdered for doing their job. This has been a trend since a couple of years and it’s time that this is put to bed.
The journalists who turned up wearing helmets at the event where BJP leaders were speaking, wanted to send a symbolic message to the BJP government that this attitude of theirs is downright problematic.
Subhash Rao, BJP state office in-charge while speaking to ThePrint has said that Pandey stayed back and began “spying on the proceedings of the BJP meeting by video recording so party members threw him out”.
He instead blamed the media for taking out protests and sensationalise what happened.
India has constantly ranked poor in the World Freedom Index, where it stood 138 out of 180 countries in 2018 in terms of press safety and it is because of incidents like this that our rank is going down the drain year after year.
Nonetheless, journalists now are interviewing BJP party leaders donning helmets, sending out a strong message that they need to be protected from people who abuse their power.
It won’t be a surprise to me if, in the future, this movement spreads to other parts of the country as well.
Image Credits: Google Images
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