Journalists protest stripping, assault of lensman allegedly by Trinamool men

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Apr 11, 2018

Cameras down: Journalists in Kolkata protest the stripping of a photo journalist, on Wednesday

He reportedly took pictures of TMC men preventing Opposition candidates from filing nominations for panchayat polls

In a shocking incident, 46-year-old news photographer Biplab Mandal was stripped for reportedly trying to click a picture of Trinamool Congress activists capturing the South 24-Parganas district magistrate’s office in Kolkata so as to prevent Opposition candidates from filing nominations for the upcoming panchayat polls. Several other journalists were also beaten up.

South 24-Parganas adjoins Kolkata and its district headquarters is located in the city’s posh locality of Alipore, a stone’s throw from State Police headquarters and a few hundred metres from the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence. It is also in close vicinity of three top security jails.

On Wednesday, media personnel in the city organised a silent march in protest against the incident, which reportedly took place on Monday. They demanded safety and security of journalists covering the polls. In the last one week, there have been numerous reports of attacks on journalists from many districts in Bengal.

Recounting the incident, Mandal said hooligans had taken control of the ground floor of the office premises. They did not carry any party flag but were manhandling candidates from the Opposition.

“Everyone, including the women staff of the office, were searched by them to prevent entry of the nomination papers by Opposition parties,” Mandal said. A huge police contingent was positioned a few hundred metres from the spot but they didn’t interfere, he added.

Mandal managed to enter the premises tried to discretely take a few pictures on his mobile. Over the next couple of hours, Mandal was beaten up several times and in phases, whisked away to a nearby slum and stripped by armed goons, allegedly at the order of a TMC strongman.

Police had taken Mandal’s statement on Tuesday.

Historically, the ruling party in Bengal has used muscle power in panchayat polls.

Court order

Meanwhile, the BJP, which had moved the Supreme Court against an order of the State Election Commission (SEC), was sent back to the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday.

The SEC had on Tuesday rescinded an order to extend the deadline for filing nominations to that day. The extension order was issued only the previous day.

Based on a petition from the BJP, the Calcutta High Court had on Tuesday stayed the SEC’s order.

On Wednesday the apex court redirected the issue to the Calcutta High Court. The latter will hear the matter on Thursday.

“Liberty is given (by the Supreme Court) to the petitioner to approach High Court seeking all prayers including postponement of the (Panchayat) election,” tweeted Surjya Kanta Mishra, CPI(M) State Secretary.

Published on April 11, 2018
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