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26 May 2017

'Press' jerseys: Cops' move to protect scribes

Utsav Basu | MP | 25 May 2017 | Kolkata: Ever since the British rule, in any riot-like incident, journalists being roughed up or brutalised by rioteers is not new. However, when a government or the administration thinks about their safety and demarcates them from the mob by providing them jerseys, it is not only new but commendable.

On Thursday, in a unique move, in view of a protest rally by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to Lalbazar, Kolkata Police had provided all journalists with jerseys to identify them in case of any eventuality. On Monday, in a protest march by the CPI(M), a number of scribes were injured in the scuffle that broke out between the protestors and the cops. The police had to resort to lathi-charge in order to disperse the crowd and in the melee, a few journalists received injuries.

On Thursday, Kolkata Police took an extremely proactive step and the cops were seen approaching journalists asking them to get their names enrolled with the Kolkata Police and get a jersey, all for their safety. Journalists were also asked to write their names, organisation's name and phone numbers. The importance of the jerseys was felt only when violent scenes broke out. Police on Thursday did not for a moment disturb the journalists as they were easy to identify with the jerseys on with 'Press' written on both sides. It is because of this demarcation that there was no casualty or injury received by the journalists in Thursday's scuffle on arterial roads connecting the Kolkata Police headquarters at Lalbazar.

The entire Press fraternity hailed the move taken by Kolkata Police.

"I have been covering protests rallies for almost 10 years now. I have never seen any arrangement of this sort and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kolkata Police for ensuring our safety," said a senior journalist of an English daily, adding: "I am touched at this gesture."

It is important to mention that in any civilised country, mediapersons are provided with jackets and jerseys with 'Press' or 'Media' written on them. In cases of major sporting events, riot-like situations or incidents where eventualities are feared, the administration provides journalists with such jerseys or jackets.

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