Press freedom under threat in Telugu states: Zee journalist arrested, Deccan Chronicle office attacked by TDP activists

On Wednesday, 10 July, two incidents in these states have raised serious questions about the rights of the police and political parties to attack journalists and media houses.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Jul 11, 2024 | 8:17 PM Updated Jul 11, 2024 | 8:17 PM

Press freedom under threat in Telugu states: Zee journalist arrested, Deccan Chronicle office attacked by TDP activists

In the two states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, there has been unrest due to repeated incidents of police highhandedness on regional and national journalists, media houses and advocates over the past two weeks.

The victims have either been on the ground covering people’s issues, written news articles, or posted people’s grievances on X.

On Wednesday, 10 July, two incidents raised serious questions about the rights of the police and political parties to attack journalists and media houses.

In Hyderabad, Telangana, a Zee Telugu reporter Sri Charan was manhandled and detained by Osmania University police officials. He was reporting on students’ opinions during District Selection Committee (DSC) notification postponement protests in various parts of the city.

According to Sri Charan, the students had contacted him to cover their opinions on the DSC recruitment at the Osmania University Library. He went to cover the story and was reporting live.

Also Read: T’gana phone tapping case: Former SIB chief Prabhakar Rao refuses to return to India

Attack on Zee Telugu journalist, Deccan Chronicle office

After the reporting, Osmania University police officials dragged the journalist and pushed him into a police patrol vehicle. Videos of the incident have gone viral on social media.

The journalist was later taken to the Osmania University police station and released. He is undergoing treatment for the minor injuries sustained while being dragged by Police.

BRS social media convenor Krishank met Sri Charan and facilitated his interaction with senior party leader KT Rama Rao, who assured help to the journalist. KTR also condemned the attacks on journalists under the current rule of the Congress government- the Indiramma Rajyam.

The Zee Telugu team, along with Sri Charan, met K Sreenivas Reddy, the chairman of the Telangana Media Academy and submitted a representation, urging that the Hyderabad Police’s attack on journalists be brought to the government’s attention.

The team also met Telangana Director General of Police (DGP), Dr Jitender, and requested action.

On the same day, the Deccan Chronicle office in Vizag was attacked by TDP activists following a news article in the English daily about the privatisation of Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP). The news report published was titled “Alliance Takes U Turn On VSP Privatisation.”

The TDP members entered the office and set fire to the nameplate of the Deccan Chronicle organisation.

Also Read: Dr Jitender appointed as Telangana DGP

Lokesh condemns attack on media office

IT Minister Nara Lokesh reacting to the incidents, stated on X that party leaders should exercise restraint, and the party would take action on fake news, adding that the NDA government would deliver on its promises.

“We strongly condemn the attack on Deccan Chronicle Display Board at their Vizag office. I request party leaders and karyakarthas to maintain composure and not let their emotions drive their actions,” he wrote on X.

“We will take legal action against these blue media organisations that produce biased news-items that are inaccurate, unauthentic and not based on true facts,” Lokesh further wrote.

In both these cases in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, a case is yet be filed with the police.

Also Read: In Telangana, BRS legislators shift to Congress but voters to BJP

Spate of attacks on journalists

Two days ago, a female journalist from 10 TV was denied entry into the premises of Balkampet Yellamma Temple to report her live program.

On the same day, Transport and BC Welfare Minister Ponnam Prabhakar and Gadwal Vijayalakshmi visited the temple to offer prayers. They faced issues with the arrangements and promptly questioned the police for their behaviour towards the female reporter, instructing them not mishandle any individual.

A group of Journalists met Congress Rajya Sabha member Anil Kumar and submitted a representation on the attacks by Hyderabad Police against journalists.

In another case, the Federation of Bar Associations for the State of Telangana abstained from work in all the courts in the state on 11 July to protest against the attack by a constable on an advocate in Siddipet.

As per the executive body of the federation, Advocate M Ravi Kumar, who practices in Siddipet Court, went to Siddipet-II Town Police Station with an accused Gudumani Rakesh. At the police station, Assistant Sub-Inspector Uma Reddy reportedly attacked the advocate,  instead of accepting the sureties, alleging obstruction of duties.

The complainant then requested them to cooperate with the procedure, and Ravi started recording the video. When the police officer warned him, Ravi got into a physical altercation with the officer. Two other police officers witnessed the incident and called for necessary action.

In an earlier incident, police were seen lifting a TV 9 reporter who was on the ground covering students protests.

Journalist Revathi, who tweeted about another woman’s issues with power cuts on X, was booked for defamation and making false claims against the state.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)

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