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Journalist at ‘The Wire’ : Heckled by Dalit and Leftist activists, told by Editors to ‘let it go’

Journalism is a tough job, and the job is tougher when one is a lady journalist. In a shocking even, a journalist from the leftist propaganda website, ‘The Wire’, had made revelations about being manhandled and heckled while covering a story. She has detailed her ordeal in a Facebook post.

Damayantee Dhar was covering a case of one Doctor Mariraj, a third year resident doctor of the BJ Medical College who had alleged caste discrimination against nine people of the department. As per Damayantee, while she was investigating, she came across some proof against Dr. Mariraj and proof that some of his allegations don’t hold water.

She says that while she was interviewing Dr. Mariraj, Keval Rathod, a group of men led by Keval Rathod entered the room where the interview was being held and starting abusing and heckling Dhar. She says that in this incident that took place on 7th January, she and a journalist from the Ahmedabad Mirror were attacked by a mob of 15-20 Dalit men (presumably led by Keval Rathod, an advocate/dalit activist from Una). They were manhandled, heckled, their press card and mobile phones were snatched and their recording was deleted. She said all this happened while 7-8 men kept recording what was happening to them while abusing them verbally.

She alleges that Keval Rathod, advocate/dalit activist, kept screaming “Brahmanwad Manuwad media” and threatened her with an atrocities case. He even snatched her press card from the policeman who had come to rescue her and said “Brahman ho, Dhar ho, dekhta hu main”. He also abused the media house Damayantee represented and asked her to not ask Dr. Mariraj questions if she can’t help him, considering he was the supposed victim.

Damayantee revealed that she wasn’t as shaken by this incident as she was by the reaction of the leftist activists and Editors who have all along been standing up for Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Press. She says that she was asked to let it go and accept it as a professional hazard. That if she filed and complaint or spoke about it, it would harm to “movement”. Some even tried to scare her saying that if she spoke up, she would invite counter complaints against herself.

She said that in the past few days, at least 4 reporters have been attacked by these so called activists/dalit activists and somehow, there has been some sort of silence around it. She wonders what their reaction would be if it were right wing activists who were going around heckling reporters.

She rues that while some reporters were getting heckled, these beacons of free press were celebrating only because the reporter belonged to a ‘certain channel’.

In her post, Dhar says,

“As for me, this attack made the hypocrisy of the leftists journalists-activists-editors quite clear”. 

She says when everyone refused to write about her story, she approached the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, who acted very swiftly. She says when she was asked to identify the men who attacked her, from among some dalit activists who were already being detained. It so turned out, that the man who attacked her was already being detained.

She says that even as Keval Rathod was made to apologise to her in the police station, he did not fail to downplay the entire incident in his statement to a publication.

We wonder if the so called liberals, the paragons of virtue and the beacons of press freedom and women’s right, will speak up not only against what happened to Dhar, but also condemn the Editors who tried to silence her from telling her story, detailing her ordeal and going to the police.

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