The DUJ expresses its shock at the death of Pooja Tiwari, a young woman reporter of DNA, who died under mysterious circumstances after a fall from her flat in Faridabad. Police are investigating the alleged suicide. Pooja Tiwari had conducted a sting operation against some doctors and filed a story for DNA alleging that they were involved in female foeticide.
After the publication of the story the doctors filed a counter FIR alleging that Tiwari was blackmailing them for Rs 2 lakhs for suppressing the story. Tiwari was allegedly suspended by DNA and reportedly fell into a depression which led to suicide. The DUJ believes that the distressing episode illustrates the extreme vulnerability of journalists, specially female journalists, who are often left to fend for themselves when cases, rightly or wrongly, are lodged against them for their professional work. Attacks on journalists are becoming common, including physical attacks, intimidation and bullying on social media. The individual has little defence against them.
Tiwari’s death raises several questions. Why did her employers suspend her after using the story? Was there an internal inquiry? If she was at fault, why was an unverified story published in the first place? On the other hand, if the sting was genuine why was she left alone to face the stigma of blackmail and fight the criminal case lodged against her? It is evident that a young woman living alone in rented accommodation would not have the financial resources to fight a long and lonely legal battle. Did Tiwari choose death as the solution?
DUJ calls upon all journalists to band together to defend themselves in these difficult times when the freedom of the press is under attack from many quarters. It urges all employers to stand by journalists in times of crisis. It would like to reiterate that even the Working Journalists Act is being treated with contempt.
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