NEW DELHI: The Press Club of India (PCI) on Tuesday deplored the alleged attack on journalists during a 'Hindu Mahapanchayat' at Burari Grounds here and demanded "immediate" arrest of the perpetrators.
It also condemned the arrest of three journalists in Uttar Pradesh's Ballia district in connection with a class 12 examination paper leak case, alleging that police made them the accused while they had "exposed" the paper leak.
The PCI demanded immediate release of the three Ballia-based journalists.
The Delhi Police has registered an FIR against two Twitter handles, one of a journalist and another a news portal, for allegedly inciting hatred between communities after they claimed that scribes were manhandled during the controversial 'Hindu Mahapanchayat' event held on April 3.
In a tweet, Delhi-based journalist Meer Faisal, who works with a news portal, had alleged that he along with a fellow journalist were beaten up by a "Hindu mob" because of their "Muslim identity".
The news portal, "Article 14", had also posted a tweet on the same day alleging that "five journalists, four of them Muslim, one on assignment for the said news portal, were taken to the Mukherji Nagar police station after a mob at the event discovered their religion, attacked them and deleted videos".
Police, however, denied any detention.
Two FIRs were though lodged on complaints of some other journalists that they were assaulted.
Speaking at the Mahapanchayat, controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand had allegedly exhorted Hindus to take up arms to fight for their existence, saying "50 per cent of Hindus will convert" in 20 years if a Muslim becomes the prime minister of the country.
The Delhi Police booked Narsinghanand along with other speakers for allegedly making hate speeches at the event.
"The Press Club of India condemns the way five journalists were attacked during the Hindu Mahapanchayat held on April 3 at Delhi's Burari Grounds as highly deplorable," the PCI said in a statement.
It is also sad on the part of the Delhi Police that it remained a mute spectator and did not arrest "the culprits involved in the Burari attack", the journalists' body said.
"It seemingly smacks of pre-conceived nefarious designs of communal hooligans to force mediapersons to follow their hidden agenda," the PCI added.
Going by a series of attacks on mediapersons in the recent past, it said, it could be inferred that "these people are hell-bent on gagging the press in its entirety".
"On the face of it, the Press Club of India demands immediate arrest of these hooligans with communal overtones, and judicial inquiry be initiated to unearth the sequence of events leading to barbaric assault on mediapersons," the PCI said.
Last week, police arrested three journalists -- Ajit Ojha, Digvijay Singh and Manoj Gupta--along with others in Ballia for their alleged roles in the leakage of the class 12 English question paper of the Uttar Pradesh school examination board.
Arrest of the three scribes in connection with the case evoked an outrage among local journalists who staged protests against police and the district administration in Ballia on April 2, demanding their immediate release.
The PCI lashed out at the Uttar Pradesh government over the arrest of the three scribes and called the police action arbitrary.
"It is highly condemnable on the part of Ballia district administration to arbitrarily arrest those Ballia-based journalists who had exposed the leak of 12th examination English paper.
It is just akin to a case of kettle calling the pot black," it said, demanding "immediate release" of the three scribes Of late, it has been observed that the Uttar Pradesh government is going hammer and tongs "to threaten and actually arrest those mediapersons who don't toe the line of the government thinking over the issues of policy measures," the PCI charged.
"And, the sycophant and more-than-eager Uttar Pradesh Police and bureaucrats don't waste time in arresting mediapersons at the first-available opportunity to please powers-that-be," it added.