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25 May 2017

Kolkata Police to provide distinctive jackets to scribes covering political agitations


The unrelenting stick. Police brutally charged Left front supporters during their ‘March to secretariat’ programme on Monday. Several journalists received the same treatment.(Samir Jana)

HT, May 24, 2017, Kolkata: Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar also promised to probe the incidents of beating up journalists discharging their professional responsibilities on Monday during the Left agitation.
Kolkata Police will soon provide distinctive jackets to media persons covering agitations and demonstrations so that police can easily identify them if there is violence, police commissioner, Rajeev Kumar said late on Tuesday evening.
A media delegation met him after more than 200 journalists and photo-journalists walked to the police headquarters at Lalbazar in protest against Monday’s lathicharge on scribes who were covering a Left agitation. While supporters of the CPI(M) and other organisations clashed with the police, the scribes, too, became targets. Incidentally, there is no precedence of such a step anywhere in the country. Jackets may be distributed on a trial basis before the BJP’s agitation programme on Friday in front of the Kolkata Police headquarters.
Barricades on Mayo Road in central Kolkata separate agitators and policemen on Monday. (Samir Jana)
More than a dozen of them were injured in indiscriminate lathicharge. Camera and other equipment were damaged as well. Journalists alleged that policemen did not relent even after being told that they were journalists discharging professional responsibilities. In some cases identities were quite evident as cameramen carried video cameras with identities of their respective organisations.
The violence was widely condemned in social and political circles. It became the talking point on social media with many people uploading footage from the spot.
“The commissioner told us that special jackets would be introduced on a trial basis on May 25 before the BJP’s planned agitation outside the police headquarters. This would help the police identify reporters and photographers in case they are asked to disperse agitators,” said Debdoot Ghosh Thakur, a senior journalist who met the police commissioner as part of a six-member delegation.
Policemen picked up stones thrown at them by the agitators and hurled them back. (Samir Jana)

“The commissioner also assured us that police personnel and officers who were involved in the assault on scribes on Monday would be identified. He said action would be taken against them within a week. He also assured us that statement of scribes who became victims of the police assault would be recorded. The commissioner himself said that he had heard about complaints against additional deputy commissioner Aparajita Rai,” said Ghosh Thakur.
“The commissioner told us that Rai’s name came up several times in connection with use of force on journalists. He promised to take action,” said a member of the delegation.

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