Press Club of India condemns FIR against The Caravan journalists, calls for fair investigation

The Press Club of India (PCI) has expressed strong condemnation over the filing of an FIR against journalists from The Caravan under severe sections of the IPC, including 354 and 153(A), at Bhajanpura Police Station in North East Delhi.

In August 2020, journalists Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh and a woman journalist were reporting in the North Ghonda neighbourhood of northeast Delhi, when they were attacked, subjected to communal slurs, threatened with murder, and sexually harassed. According to The Caravan, the journalists were taking photographs of saffron flags in the area, when some men, including one who identified himself as a ‘BJP general secretary’, allegedly attacked them. The journalists had immediately filed complaints at the Bhajanpura police station.

After close to four years, Prabhjit Singh received a notice from the Bhajanpura police asking him to join an investigation related to an FIR in which the three journalists were accused under serious sections such as 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) and 153A (promoting communal enmity).

“We were not given a certified copy of the FIR against our staffers, citing its sensitive nature. We have learnt that the FIR against our staffers was lodged less than an hour before our FIR on the same day in 2020. It is worth noting here that although our complaints were filed on the day of the incident itself, the police did not register our FIR until three days later, on 14 August 2020. The police have informed us that our FIR is being considered a ‘counter FIR’,” The Caravan said in its statement.

The PCI had previously raised serious concerns about the attack and demanded an FIR along with a judicial probe.

However, instead of addressing the attackers, the Delhi Police delayed the registration of the FIR and initiated an investigation against the journalists. The FIR details are contrary to the widely reported facts of the incident. It is particularly troubling that The Caravan was not informed of this FIR for four years.

The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the journalists, who were reporting on police misconduct, are now facing a serious FIR at the same police station where the attack occurred. The police have not pursued the FIR filed by The Caravan journalists.

This act is viewed as an attempt to suppress journalism and undermine press freedom. The PCI fully supports the persecuted journalists of The Caravan and condemns the Delhi Police’s biased and vindictive actions.

The PCI calls on the Delhi Police to act fairly and impartially, to withdraw the FIR against the journalists, and to properly investigate the FIR filed by The Caravan journalists. Additionally, the PCI urges the Delhi High Court to oversee the investigations to prevent the misuse of power against the press.