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NBA condemns police action on scribes outside Rampal ashram

PTI 18 Nov 2014, 20:12:40 PM IST

New Delhi: The News Broadcasters Association today strongly condemned the “brutal assault” by policemen on journalists and camera persons outside the ashram of controversial ‘godman' Rampal in Hissar, terming it as a frontal attack on freedom of press.

NBA president Rajat Sharma said such a “naked show of unbridled ‘khaki' power” was “unacceptable” in democracy while demanding exemplary action against the errant policemen who “unleashed unprovoked attacks” on journalists and cameramen doing their duties lawfully.

“The NBA considers this attack a blot on the face of democracy, and an assault on the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the Constitution.  “Policemen in uniform deliberately damaged expensive TV cameras and cellphones belonging to news channels and reporters, in full view of their senior officials,” Sharma said in a statement.

The NBA president has urged Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar to ensure that action be taken immediately against the men in uniform who ordered and carried out the “unprovoked attacks”.

Several persons, including security, were injured in clashes that erupted at the ashram as authorities attempted to storm the premises and arrest the self-styled ‘godman' against whom fresh non-bailable warrants were issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday.
Cameras of many private electronic news channels were broken.

“The Chief Minister must take exemplary action against the culprits to ensure that such shameful incidents are not repeated in the future,” Sharma said.  

The NBA is an apex body of private news broadcasters.  Sharma said the “powers-that-be” must understand that the journalists were only carrying out their lawful duty of disseminating information to the people even as events were unfolding right in front of their eyes.

“For over two weeks now, the nation has been watching the spectacle of a state police looking completely helpless in arresting a self-styled godman hidden by his goons in his ashram and producing him before the Hon'ble High Court. On the contrary, the police today unleashed its power on helpless journalists doing their lawful duty,” he said.