Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday it deplores the threats and violence against journalists during demonstrations that the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) organized last week in several cities in the northeastern state of Assam.
The media freedom organization calls on the authorities to condemn all such violence against journalists and to do whatever is necessary to prevent any recurrence.
Several journalists were attacked by demonstrators while covering the protests, held on 28 August. They included Amulya Nath of News Live TV, who was beaten up and whose camera was taken. Four other journalists reported being the victims of similar violence and a media truck was torched.
Four local journalists’ organizations – Journalists’ Forum Assam, Electronic Media Forum Assam, Assam Photo Journalists Association and Assam Union of Working Journalists – issued statements condemning the violence and urging the authorities to identify those responsible without delay.
Violence between Muslims and Bodos, a local indigenous group, has torn Assam for months, leaving more more than 80 dead and prompting 400,000 to flee the region. Citing national security grounds, the government has blocked hundreds of websites and social network accounts in a bid to suppress content inciting violence.
When a protest in Mumbai on 11 August triggered similar communal violence, the police used tear-gas to disperse demonstrators, who reacted by turning on journalists covering the event. Three journalists were injured and several media trucks, including an ABP News truck, were torched. Other media equipment was also damaged by demonstrators.
India is ranked 131st out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.