The Editors Guild of India on Sunday hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, alleging that the law enforcement agencies under it “prevented” media persons from reporting on developments in and around Hathras in connection with the alleged sexual assault and murder of a Dalit woman.
In a statement, the Guild said not allowing the media to visit the incident spots and tapping the phone conversations of journalists undermine and obstruct the functioning of the media.
The Guild demanded that the government create conditions in Hathras that do not obstruct journalists in any way.
“The Editors Guild Of India condemns the manner in which the law enforcement agencies of the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Yogi Adityanath, have prevented media persons from reporting on developments in and around Hathras after a brutal assault on a woman leading to her death and the hurried cremation of her body by the authorities without the presence of the family of the deceased,” the statement said.
Equally “reprehensible” is the way the government has tapped the telephones of journalists engaged in covering the Hathras incidents, the Guild said.
“Worse, the tapped conversation of the journalists has been selectively leaked, leading to a social media calumny against them,” it said.
“Hathras is the worst such case in the scale of interference but the Guild also notes with concern that such attacks against the media are becoming part of a growing trend seen in recent months, in which a few other state governments have also indulged in such harassment of journalists,” the statement said.
The Guild condemns these and demands corrective action, it said.
The 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped at a village in Hathras by four men on September 14. After her condition worsened, she was referred to the Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital where she died of her injuries on Tuesday.
She was cremated in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.
Local police officers, however, had said the cremation was carried out “as per the wishes of the family”.