The police on Tuesday arrested a security-cum-vigilance officer of the M/s SMS Smelters factory in Lekhi village, identified as Nangram Tapuk, for allegedly assaulting a journalist while on duty.
Hofe Dada (29), a reporter of ‘Gyoloo News’, a digital media house based in Itanagar, was reportedly assaulted by four men including Tapuk for reporting on the Smelting factory on Monday afternoon.
Reportedly, one of the men had said he (Dada) would meet the same fate as that of senior journalist Tongam Rina, who had been shot at in 2012.
Capital superintendent of police Tumme Amo said the alleged accused Tapuk was arrested from Naharlagun around 11.30 am after a case was registered against him at the Nirjuli police station on Monday under sections 341/325/506 of the IPC.
“Though the offence is bailable, the police will make sure that such incident does not happen to anyone in the future,” Amo said while assuring a transparent investigation into the case.
The SP further requested the public to inform his office of any kind of illegal activity being executed in the Smelting factory and said he will personally investigate the case.
Nirjuli police station officer in-charge Minli Geyi said the police have received a counter FIR from the accused on Tuesday.
He said the FIR was lodged by the public relations officer of Smelting factory accusing the journalist of trespassing in the factory compound.
“The matter is presently under investigation and we will look into both the complaints,” Geyi said.
He further informed that a formal medical check-up of the victim was carried out at Tomo Riba Institute of Health And Medical Sciences on Monday and the victim, fortunately hasn’t sustained any major injuries.
The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has vehemently condemned the assault on the young journalist.
“The attempts to intimidate the media in the state are growing rapidly and the government must ensure the safety of journalists. It’s clear that the four men blocked Dada from carrying out his duty and attempted to gag the freedom of press. The IJU demands that police expedite investigations and take necessary action against the culprits,” IJU president Geetartha Pathak said in a statement.
Such attempts to harass the journalists are not acceptable, the statement added.
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) said the state’s media persons have been repeatedly abused, trolled and attacked while on duty over the years.
“We demand the state government and the police in particular to initiate stringent measures so that adequate deterrents are put in place against such attacks in the future,” the Union said.
The Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society appealed to the state government to ensure a free and fair environment for the journalists to carry out their work.
“We urge the police to arrest all the culprits involved and to file a credible case so that such assaults are not repeated,” the society said.
In regards to the Smelting factory, the society said the state pollution control board should take up the issue seriously so as to prevent further public health hazards in the factory’s surrounding areas.
The All Nyishi Youth Association (ANYA), All East Kameng District Students Union and Dream for United Arunachal have also condemned the attack.
Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalist (APUWJ) president Amar Sangno in a press statement urged the state police to take stringent action against the culprits for assaulting the journalist.
Sangno expressed concern over the repeated reference to the shooting incident of veteran journalist Tongam Rina by criminals and stated that such references by criminals against journalists reflect how criminals undermine the laws.
“Tongam Rina did not get justice from the shooting incident which has emboldened the perpetrators to target media persons,” Sangno said.