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Human Rights

Gujarat police beat up photojournalist, charge him with looting and rioting

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Committee to Protect Journalists

New Delhi, August 9, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned a brutal attack on photojournalist Pravin Indrekar by police in the Indian state of Gujarat, and called on the state authorities to withdraw charges of looting and rioting that police filed against him.

Indrekar, who works for DNA newspaper, a Mumbai-based daily, was attacked by the police in the early morning of July 27 when he tried to photograph a police crackdown in the Chharanagar area of Ahmedabad city, according to Indian news website The Wire and Indrekar’s own outlet. Indrekar, who lives in the area, had stepped out of his home at 1:00 a.m. July 27, when police officials were allegedly beating up locals, Indrekar’s son Rahul told The Wire. Indrekar’s son also told The Wire that Pravin Indrekar informed the police that he was a journalist, but they nevertheless broke his camera and hit him with their heavy sticks known as lathis. Around 5:00 a.m., Indrekar was taken to the hospital by his family for medical attention, and the police arrested him there, The Wire reported.

“This brutal attack on photojournalist Pravin Indrekar requires a thorough and impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Police in Ahmedabad cannot be given a free license to beat journalists at will.”

According to the First Information Report, which was seen by CPJ, police charged Indrekar on 11 counts including rioting, looting, and attacking the police. However, the internal police report on the incident fails to support these allegations, according to the officer investigating the incident, BC Solanki. Solanki told CPJ that there was no evidence to support the charges of looting or rioting. “I have submitted my report. These charges were made by police and the witnesses listed are also police officials. The deputy superintendent of police is investigating the matter,” Solanki added.

Indrekar, who is free on bail, says the local police are refusing to register his complaint against the police officials who he names as responsible for the attack. “We are now going to move to the court and request the judge to instruct a proper investigation,” he told CPJ.

A protest, organized at the Mumbai Press Club on August 7 in support of Indrekar, was attended by over 150 journalists and photographers.

CPJ has documented a number of previous incidents in which police in India have attacked journalists on reporting assignments.

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