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Baton-wielding police assault journalists in India

On October 4, 2013, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the assault by baton-wielding police of journalists covering a demonstration in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. Several photojournalists were injured in the incident.

According to the Journalists Union of Assam (JUA), part of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists' Union (IJU), the journalists were assaulted while they were reporting on a demonstration by an anti-corruption body, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti in the Dispur Last Gate area of Guwahati city on October 1.

The Assam Photo Journalist Association (APJA) has joined the JUA in condemning the police action and has demanded an official inquiry into the incident and appropriate sanctions against the police responsible.

In a separate incident, the JUA condemned an alleged attack on Guwahati-based journalist Rantu Baishya by a local political figure, Kanika Das, which also included Baishya's camera being snatched. Despite a formal complaint being lodged, as of October 4 local police had yet to initiate inquiries or take any action against Das.

The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: "Assam has been an area of concern for the IFJ with its record of impunity for acts of violence against media practitioners. Local police must accept that journalists perform a vital role of informing society about important news events.

"Police should be properly trained to understand their obligations to protect the media in times of conflict and they must take extra care to ensure that during protests and demonstrations, they do not target journalists who are busy working to capture important news and images," IFJ said.

"It is an outrageous violation of press freedom for police to assault journalists who are simply doing their job just as it is an appalling example of impunity if police fail to investigate incidents where journalists have been assaulted and their tools of trade taken from them," IFJ said.

"We extend our support to our colleagues in India who are seeking justice for these two instances of violence against them."

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