ITANAGAR, Jun 30: The capital police on Tuesday arrested a man, identified as Nangram Tapu (34), in connection with the physical assault on Gyoloo News’ reporter Hofe Dada.
Tapu reportedly works as a ‘security-cum-vigilance officer’ at the SMS Smelters Ltd in Lekhi, where the assault took place when Dada had gone there on Monday to do a report on the factory. Dada was on duty when he was assaulted by four men.
A case (No 25/2020 u/s 341/325/506 IPC) had been registered at the Nirjuli police station on Monday itself.
Dada claimed that the assailants threatened him of dire consequences and said that he would meet the same fate as that of senior journalist Tongam Rina, who had been shot at in 2012.
Capital SP Tumme Amo informed that the alleged accused has filed a counter FIR, alleging that Dada had trespassed the premises of SMS Smelters. Dada, however, denied the allegation, saying that he had filmed the factory from the terrace of a building near it.
APUWJ urges police to take stringent action against assaulters
Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists president Amar Sangno in a press statement urged the state police to take stringent action against the culprits for assaulting a journalist.
Drawing attention of the police to the Tongam Rina shooting incident, Sangno expressed concern over the repeated reference to the incident by Dada’s assaulters, and said “such references by criminals against journalists reflect how criminals undermine the law.
“Tongam Rina did not get justice for the shooting incident, which has emboldened criminals to target media persons,” Sangno said.
He expressed gratitude to the police on behalf of the state’s press community for apprehending the main accused within such a short period.
The Indian Journalists Union has also strongly condemned the assault on Dada. IJU president Geetartha Pathak and secretary-general Sabina Inderjit said in a statement that “attempts to intimidate the media in the state are growing and the government must ensure safety of journalists.
“It is clear that the four men blocked Dada from carrying out his duty, and it was an attempt to gag the freedom of the press.
“The IJU demands that the police expedite the investigation and take necessary action against the culprits, in order to send a strong message that such attempts to harass journalists are not acceptable,” they said.
The assault on Dada has drawn widespread criticism from all quarters of the state.
The Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (APWWS) expressed serious concern over the report of the assault.
“Media should be allowed to do its work without any threat or intimidation from any corner,” the APWWS said in a statement. “The government of Arunachal should ensure free and fair environment for reporting.”
The APWWS urged the police to arrest all the culprits involved, and to file a credible case, so that such assaults are not repeated.
“There have been many instances of assault on media in the state but none of the perpetrators of violence has been arrested. We request the authority to kindly expedite all the necessary steps to give justice to media people,” it said, adding that “fast-tracking such cases is the only way to prevent goons from taking the law into their hands.”
Regarding the emission of toxic gas from the SMS Smelters Ltd, the APWWS said the Arunachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board should take up the issue seriously to prevent further public health hazard in the surrounding areas.
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union in a statement said, “We are very saddened to learn about the assault and verbal threat issued to Hofe Dada, a young reporter from Gyoloo News yesterday while reporting on industrial pollution.
“Despite facing serious hardships and lack of additional benefits, people associated with press and media have been diligently doing their job. Over the years, press and media people have been repeatedly abused, trolled and attacked while on duty. This has to stop,” the AAPSU said, and demanded that the state government and the police initiate “stringent measures, so that adequate deterrents are put in place against such attacks in the future.”
Joining the condemnation, NGO Dream for United Arunachal (DUA) called for respect for press freedom. It sought to know why the alleged accused is playing the victim card after assaulting a media person who was on duty with proper gear and identity card.
“Such treatment should not be tolerated,” the DUA stated, condemning the incident.
The All Nyishi Youth Association (ANYA) also condemned the assault and termed it an “unfortunate and inappropriate incident against media fraternity of Arunachal Pradesh.”
The association appealed to the police to investigate the matter thoroughly and award exemplary punishment to the accused if found guilty in the assault case.
The Human Rights Law Network also condemned the assault on the reporter. It called on human rights’ defenders to unite “and defend the defenders.”
The attack on the fourth pillar of democracy is nowhere acceptable, it said in a statement.