A reporter with Telugu news channel 99TV was assaulted by the local police in Andhra Pradesh as he was covering a public meeting by actor-politician and Jana Sena Party Chief Pawan Kalyan. The incident took place on Thursday evening.
Speaking to TNM, the reporter, Nethaji Kodiyar, "I have been following Pawan Kalyan's tour of the Rayalaseema region from Kurnool. I was at the meeting in Railway Koduru town in Kadapa district last evening. As I was gathering a few people for a live at around 6 pm, one of the policemen pushed me. Even though I tried explaining to them that I was just doing my job, he started verbally abusing me. When I protested about his choice of words, he pushed me again and hit me with his lathi."
"Besides injuries on my nose, they hit me on my head, which resulted in an internal injury. We met with the local DSP and filed a complaint about the incident," he added. Nethaji said that the accused police officer in question was identified as Railway Koduru Sub Inspector Venkateshwarlu and a constable who was accompanying him.
Several eye-witnesses which included members of the Jana Sena party also spoke to the media after the incident and reiterated Nethaji's version of events, stating that he was manhandled by the police. Meanwhile, the Jana Sena party also condemned the incident.
"The attack on 99TV reporter Nethaji is condemnable. Attack on journalists is not good for democracy. Police officers should take action to prevent such incidents again and make necessary arrangements," the party said in a statement.
Journalist unions also condemned the assault and demanded an assurance that there would not be a repeat of the incident. The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) demanded that the constable and SI involved in the incident should be suspended immediately.
The police are now contemplating the action to be taken against the two officers.
"We went to the spot and enquired with locals. Andhra Pradesh DGP RP Thakur has personally looked into the incident. Strict action will be taken against the constable and SI in question," Rajampet DSP Muralidhar told TNM.