Delhi union of journalists demand media entry into protest camps

New Delhi: Condemning the decision of Delhi police’s decision barring entry of journalists to meet protesting farmers at Singhu border, the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) on Friday issued a statement demanding the entry of journalists into protest camps.

In their statement, the journalists’ union said that reporters now have to go fifteen to twenty kilometres extra through village roads, sometimes by walking, to meet the farmers.

Several journalists have voiced their concerns regarding entry to the protest sites in the past week. Newslaundry journalist Nidhi Suresh was denied from entering the Singhu border site by a policeman, a video of which has been shared widely on social media.

“We were walking back from protest when this happened. I heard the police say ‘no more media will be allowed’ just as we were leaving. When I asked if I could go back to the protest, he immediately asked to see my press card. When I asked him what a national media authorized press card is, he just walked away,” Suresh told The Quint.

YouTube video

NDTV’s Saurabh Shukla also shared a video where he had to walk for about 12 kilometers to report from the protest camp at the Singhu border.

However, Delhi police asserted that their decision to not allow journalists was taken in order to ensure their safety and well being while covering the protests. DUJ condemned this claim and said in their statement that several journalists have been covering the protests since the beginning and there had been no intimidation against objective reporting of the protests.

The union pointed to reports of police denying basic amenities like food and water to protestors besides removing toilets and cutting off electricity and said, “If the entry of reporters is banned and the Internet shut down, the media will be unable to verify reports of conditions in the camps. Unconfirmed rumors will become widespread.” It urged the Delhi Police and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to lift the ban on reporting at the protest sites while also asking the authorities to lift the internet shutdown and communication blackout.

The Coalition for Women in Journalism (CFWIJ), a global support organization for female journalists released a statement condemning the impediment of Nidhi Suresh. “CFWIJ is closely following the attacks on journalists covering the farmers’ protest. Several women journalists were attacked while covering the farmers’ protests on the ground. Many of them are targeted with online trolling campaigns in India. We condemn threats and violence against women journalists over the country,” said the statement.