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Journalists attacked in Uttar Pradesh state

(IFJ/IFEX) - October 19, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists strongly condemns two shocking cases of violence and intimidation directed against journalists and media workers in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in recent days.

In the first of these incidents, Mohammad Abdul Waheed Chishti, a reporter for a local Urdu daily, was abused and attacked by supporters of an Islamic cleric at a press conference on October 14 in the state capital Lucknow. The press conference was called by the Imam (or head) of the historic Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi to discuss a recent judicial verdict regarding a site in the town of Ayodhya, the centre of a dispute between different religious institutions since 1949.

Chishti was verbally abused by the Imam after asking a question on the possibility that some of his statements may have aggravated the public response to the verdict, before being assaulted by the Imam's personal assistants and bodyguards.

In the second incident, the Kanpur offices of the HT Media group were raided by a team of local policemen at 11pm on October 15. Editorial and other staff members of the media house, which publishes two widely circulated dailies, the Hindustan Times in English and Hindustan in Hindi, were detained and the premises sealed, preventing distribution of the following day's editions.

The raid was in response to the newspapers' reporting of a case where a nine-year old girl was allegedly sexually abused and murdered by the son of her school's manager. The reports compelled local police to prosecute the suspect after an unexplained delay of eighteen days.

The Delhi Union of Journalists, a constituent unit of the IFJ-affiliate, the Indian Journalists' Union, has called for the state government to take immediate action in both cases.

"We join our partners in India in denouncing these two shocking incidents in Uttar Pradesh and call on the local authorities to do all that is needed to see those responsible for these acts brought to justice," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"Journalists must not be subjected to unwarranted attacks and harassment when they are exercising their duties to inform people of what is happening in their communities."

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