Damayantee Dhar : On January 7th a reporter from Ahmedabad Mirror and me were attacked by a mob of about 15 -20 dalit men at Civil hospital. I was manhandled, heckled, my press card and our mobiles snatched away and recording deleted. All this while about 7-8 men kept recording what they did to me while abusing me verbally.
It has taken some time for me to be in the right state of mind to pen this down. I haven’t been as much disturbed by the attack on me as much by the response I got from leftists activists and editors, all of whom I have seen standing up for freedom of press and free speech always earlier. I was advised to let this go, take it was professional hazard, not write about this, not file complaint against dalits as it would go against the movement, some even scared me telling if I file a complaint there might be counter complaints.
When no one stood by me, I decided to write to the Commissioner of Police of Ahmedabad. I am thankful that the police acted so promptly. As for me, this attack made the hypocrisy of the leftists journalists-activists-editors quite clear. In past one week or so, 4 reporters have been either attacked or heckled by leftists activists/dalit activists-protestors and it is not ACCEPTABLE.
I wonder if these incidents were of right wing elements heckling reporters what would the same people say! I have seen many taking pleasure in attack on some reporters just because they were from certain channels. As I was being attacked, in my fear, anger and disappointment of being not supported, I can feel what each of those reporters go through being attacked. Since no one’s telling my story, here is what happened in nutshell – On 7th the leader who identified himself as Keval Rathod, an advocate/dalit activists from Una kept shouting Brahmanwadi Manuwadi media and threatened me of actrocity case. He snatched my press card from the cop who was came to rescue and threatened Dhar ho, Brahman ho, dekhta hu mein etc.
This happened while I was reporting the case of one Doc Mariraj, third year resident doctor of BJ medical college, who alleged caste discrimination against nine of the dept. As I investigated I came across proof of some serious allegations against Mariraj and proof that suggested some of his allegations doesn’t stand. With due permission we went to take Doc Mariraj’s version.
An interview that was going very amicably went hay wire when Keval Rathod and his men entered the room and began interrupting in my work. At one point Rathod began abusing the organisation I was representing stating “aap koi akhbar ya channel se nahi ho, zyada bade reporter nahi ho” etc. At one point Rathod said “ye victim hai, aap inka madad nai kar sakte to sawal mat pucho”.
Yesterday the officer who heard me asked me to identify the attackers amongst some dalit activists who were being detained. Turned out one of the men who attacked me was also detained. He was called by the officer where he and one of his associate misbehaved with me even in front of the cops. Even as Rathod was made to apologise in the police station, he did not fail to mellow down what he and his men did in his statement to alt news.
महिला पत्रकार दयमंती धर की एफबी वॉल से.