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Journalist beaten and detained in Srinagar; media workers assaulted in Dhaka

(IFJ/IFEX) - 14 September 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins affiliates and partners in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) in denouncing violent attacks on journalists and media staff in India and Bangladesh.

David Devadas, a senior journalist who has written extensively over the years on the Kashmir issue in the Indian media, was assaulted by a police patrol on September 5 in Srinagar, the capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Devadas was driving through slow-moving traffic in the city that day when he was hit from behind by the escort vehicle of a high state government functionary, according to a letter he has since written to Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. He was stopped at the next major traffic intersection by policemen on duty and told to hand over his vehicle.

While Devadas sought to clarify the reason why he had been stopped, a group of policemen approached and began beating him severely with fists and metal batons. He was verbally abused and accused of seeking to lethally assault the VIP convoy as it passed his car.

Devadas was then reportedly bundled into a police vehicle and driven to a police station, his head held down forcibly to the floor of the vehicle. The beating continued within the police station premises.

"The IFJ notes that Devadas has approached the top political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir and also made a formal complaint to high officials in the police command," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"We demand that the personnel behind this brutality be appropriately sanctioned in accordance with applicable rules for police conduct."

In Bangladesh, personnel from the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) - an elite force dealing with organised crime and terrorism - reportedly assaulted two members of the staff of the Bangla Vision TV channel in a neighbourhood of the capital city Dhaka, on September 12.

Cameraman Russel Mizan and broadcast engineer Hasanul Islam Raihan had to be admitted to hospital for emergency medical attention.

The commander of the concerned RAB cell has reportedly assured Dhaka's media community of a full investigation into the matter.

The IFJ calls for a transparent and complete investigation into this incident and positive assurance that the RAB personnel responsible will be punished for attacks on media staff.

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