Assam journalist Priyanka Borpujari, who is currently based in Mumbai, was arrested on Tuesday afternoon by the police from a slum in Vakola for allegedly instigating protestors during an eviction drive launched by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Borpujari, a freelance journalist, who hails from Assam’s Jorhat district, was whisked away from the demolition site in Mumbai’s Vakola, charged by the Bandra-Kurla police with instigating protestors, The Huffington Post reported.
Police allegedly denied access to her phone, roughed up, and held in police custody for about four hours.
“The police said I was apparently instigating protestors. I’ve been a journalist for many years now. I have covered human rights. There is no way I would incite violence. I am shocked that this allegation has been levelled against me. I remember clearly, I kept saying over and over again ‘mujhe apna kaam karne do’ (let me do my work). Because that’s what journalists are supposed to do under such circumstances,” Huffington Post quoted Borpujari as saying.
The ruckus at the demolition site started at around 12:30 in the noon. She was escorted to the police station at about 1:30 PM. Borpujari’s phone was taken away from her and despite her repeated request to be allowed to make a call, she was kept waiting at the police station till about 4 in the evening.
She had no idea at that time that she and four other women who were picked up from the site were going to be charged with obstruction of duty.
“They were trying to intimidate me, they kept snatching my phone away, and when I bent down to pick it up, they pulled my shirt. I came home with two-three bruises and contusions.” Borpujari said.
“It was very shocking. It’s my personal phone and had my personal data on it,” she said.
Later in the evening, a policeman, who was documenting the events at the Hans Bhugra Marg, and whom she refused to name, allegedly told Borpujari that if only she had a press card, she would have been let off.
Borpujari has been booked under section 353 of the Indian Penal Code on charges of assaulting or using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty. It is a bailable offence with imprisonment extending up to two years, according to The Wire. She released from police station seven hours after her detention.