New Delhi, India – Prominent journalist organizations have united in condemnation of the recent brutal attack on senior journalist Mr. Nikhil Wagle by members of a political party in Pune on February 9. This attack is just one example of a troubling trend of violence against journalists in India, reflecting a growing intolerance towards the media’s role in promoting democratic values and freedom of expression.
The assault on Wagle and two others by alleged Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers at Khandoji Baba Chowk in Pune came in the wake of an FIR filed against Wagle for his critical remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader LK Advani after the latter was awarded the Bharat Ratna by the Central government.
In response to this incident, Gautam Lahiri, President of the Press Club of India, alongside representatives from the Indian Women’s Press Corps and the Press Association, issued a joint statement emphasizing the urgent need for accountability and justice in the matter. The organizations expressed shock and outrage, highlighting the escalation of violence against journalists and its detrimental impact on the fabric of democracy. They stressed the importance of creating an environment where differing opinions, especially in politics, are respected and open to constructive dialogue rather than violent retaliation.
Furthermore, the journalist organizations have called for the withdrawal of severe charges brought against Mr. Wagle under criminal laws, including accusations of promoting enmity, mischief, and defamation. They have urged the Maharashtra government to take decisive action against the perpetrators of the attack, emphasizing that impunity for such acts of violence only emboldens further assaults on press freedom.
In a strong stance against violence towards journalists, the organizations have called upon the authorities to send a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated and those responsible will be held fully accountable under the law. This united front from journalist organizations serves as a powerful reminder of the crucial role that the media plays in safeguarding democracy and the fundamental right to freedom of expression.