: STOP WITCH HUNT OF EDITOR SHIREEN DALVI : The Press Club condemns the hounding of journalist Shireen Dalvi by filing police complaints against her across the city and state. Ms Dalvi, as editor of the Mumbai edition of the Urdu daily Awadhnama, has already published a Page One apology for having reproduced a cover of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in its January 17 issue, which had a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed.
She has explained that it was an inadvertent act. Despite that, complaints continue to be filed against her under Sec 295 A, which pertains to “outraging religious sentiments with malicious intent’’. The slander being spread against Ms Dalvi in sections of the Urdu press as well as on social media, have made it difficult for her to live at home. Since January 17, Ms Dalvi, who is a single parent, and her two college-going children have been staying with friends; the latter have not been able to attend college. The Mumbai edition of Awadhnama has been closed down, rendering Ms Dalvi and its entire staff of the daily jobless.
We see this as a systematic attempt to intimidate a journalist who was merely doing her job, and drive her out of the profession. Her being a woman editor, a rarity in the Urdu media, seems to have has added an edge to her persecution. We call upon the state government to create conditions for her and her children to be able to return home and live in security.
The Press Club is also writing to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also heads the state Home Ministry, to stop the harassment of Shireen Dalvi through trumped up FIRs, and to ensure that she and her children are provided police protection.
DUJ Condemns Attacks on Women Journalists
The Delhi Union of Journalists condemns the sacking of the Urdu daily Avadhnama’s editor and its 15-member staff for publishing a cover of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Shirin Dalvi, the woman editor of the Mumbai edition of the newspaper, has been charged and arrested for “outraging religious feelings” under Sec.295A of the IPC. DUJ notes that six FIRs have been registered against Dalvi in different parts of Maharashtra. This smacks of religious intolerance and is an attack on the freedom of the press. DUJ regrets that Dalvi and her family are receiving death threats, despite the apology she published in the daily. Dalvi has secured bail from one court and is trying to secure bail from another. She has been forced to go into hiding and has put on a burkha for the first time in her life to conceal her identity.
DUJ demands that Dalvi and the staff of the daily be restored to their jobs and that the daily resume publication so that media freedom is upheld. We believe that while religious sentiments and sensitivities need to be respected, these must be balanced against the secular rights and media freedoms that guard India’s democracy. DUJ also condemns the assault by two policemen on a woman reporter of a TV channel in Guwahati and the cameraperson accompanying her. They were attacked for attempting to expose a housing racket. DUJ demands strict action against the guilty policemen. The Gender Council of the DUJ believes that attacks on women reporters and editors are increasing, reflecting the growing intolerance in the country. It is vital that women journalists are provided due protection given the numerous risks they take in the pursuit of their profession.