Even as two persons were arrested a day after the assault on a reporter at Vittal, a group of journalists here on Thursday urged the Superintendent of Police, Dakshina Kannada, to ensure the security of journalists who have written about communal groups.
Abdul Jabbar and Abubakker Siddique were arrested for allegedly being a part of a group that assaulted journalist V.T. Prasad (36) at Vitla on Wednesday. Police, however, were uncertain if the duo were a part of a group.
In a memorandum submitted to the Superintendent of Police, numerous television, print and online journalists have said members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) — some of whom have been named in news reports on land, timber and building mafia by Mr. Prasad — were behind the incident that amounted to moral policing. According to the reporter, he was targeted for having aided a woman from a minority community in rebuilding a house. The memorandum stated that “false allegations” of molestation against the reporter be looked into.
“The woman has given two sets of statements and seems to be under duress. We suggest that she be given proper counselling and then allowed to give a statement,” says the memorandum.
On Wednesday morning, Mr. Prasad (36), working with the local daily Karavali Ale, was beaten near his house by a group of around 30 men for allegedly helping his neighbour — a widow from a minority community — rebuild her house. According to his statement, this had angered the group, which questioned why he, of a different religion, would help her out.
After the assault, the woman, who was admitted to Wenlock Hospital in the city, filed a case with the Vittal Police alleging that the reporter had molested her, following which her neighbours sought him out and thrashed him.
He suffered severe head injuries after being repeatedly struck with clubs, and is recovering at a private hospital in Mangalore.
Meanwhile, the PFI denied connection with the attack, it said in a release that the journalist “was caught red-handed by the public” for having an illicit affair with the woman.