Mohammed Waqar Bhatti, a journalist from Jammu, on Saturday posted a video on Facebook in which he claimed that he was beaten to pulp by some ‘ BJP men’ for giving ample coverage to the Kathua rape and murder case.
Bhatti was covering the rally of Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah in Jammu along with some fellow journalists. He says that as soon as he sat in the car, 5 to 10 people associated with the right wing groups Bajrang Dal, RSS and VHP attacked him and tried to drag him out of the car.
His fellow journalists were also beaten up while the police watched as a mute spectator, says Bhatti who then ran for his life and chose to sit in the premises of Inspector General of police’s office in Jammu. He posted a video about what had happened and appealed to the public to support him.
In the video, he can be seen struggling to speak because of the pain with his left cheek swollen up. He, repeatedly in the video says that Police was witness to the beating but did not do anything.
“ I was in the car when they attacked. 5 to 10 boys came and tried to drag me out of the car. I resisted. The police were there but did not help me. They kept beating me and in the process, my specs also broke,” he says.
“The Delhi based journalists saved my life. We were covering the RSS BJP rally where they beat me. My legs hurt. I am not able to stand, friends. My cheek and chest are also hurting,” he says while appealing the viewers to share the video as his phone battery was dying. He says the members of RSS and BJP were waiting for him outside the IG’s office to beat him up again with “swords and knives in their hands.”
“They hit a sister as well. Her name is Sarika. She is a Kashmiri Pandit. She is also a journalist. We were covering Amit Shah’s rally. She was abused and threatened. They damaged the car and also beat my two other friends,” Bhatti says.
He continues appealing the people to support him in every way possible as “ he has always stood for the truth” adding that this was the third attack on him.
He, however, says that the incident has only strengthened him to speak the truth and stand against the people who attacked him. “It’s ok. If my life would have been taken away for speaking the truth, I would not have minded.”
He says that he has approached the police and will see how they will investigate the case.
Bhatti says that he, by face, knows two men who attacked him. He was also told that Advocate Talib Hussain will also be killed as both of them had played a vital role in highlighting the 8-year-old’s rape and murder case in which the prime accused were all Hindus.
“Among the attackers, I know the two people very well. I know them by face. They told me that I was trying to involve Hindus in the 8-year-old’s rape and murder case. They told me that they will kill me and then kill Talib (Advocate turned Gujjar tribal activist),” Bhatti says adding that a 3-star SHO was watching while he was being beaten.
“ I will get justice for the Kathua victim. I will keep on opposing them. If they have attacked me in Jammu today, and they are not terrorists, then what are they? They have tried to attack me like terrorists and police were standing there, just watching,” he says.
“ I cannot speak more as I don’t have the courage to talk right now. It is your choice as to what you will do,” Bhatti says while concluding the video.
In another video that he shared on Facebook, a woman can be heard screaming, “ And the police is standing here watching.” She can be heard saying that her car has been damaged and was questioning the same.
While confronting a policeman, she says, “ You just have a look. Nobody drags a man out of the car and beat him. You are a Hindu terrorist!”
“I will report to the police and you will be jailed. I will see what kind of Hindu you are,” she can be heard screaming while addressing men around her. From the other side, nothing can be heard but in return, she replies, “Talk to your mother like this.”
The man capturing the video from inside of the car can be heard telling her to let it go and not indulge in an argument with them. A man in yellow can be seen hitting the car while the person making the video asks the driver to move.
“The Hindu sister helped me otherwise they would have killed me. The police did not help me. And did not take any action against them even after 48 hours,” Bhatti’s Facebook post read.
The ‘India Freedom Report: Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in 2017’ by The Hoot confirms that 11 journalists were murdered(the reason for three of which can be connected to their work), 46 cases of attacks and 27 cases of police action including arrest and cases filed.
Regarding the rape and murder case of the 8-year-old tribal minor girl from Kathua, leading from the front Advocate Talib Hussain was attacked by some people in Udhampur in April.
Recently, BJP’s Lal Singh in a press conference accused Kashmiri journalists for creating a ‘wrong narrative regarding the Kathua rape-murder case’, and warned them of a ‘Shujaat like incident’. Singh was forced to resign after he participated in rally which was taken out in support of the accused in the gruesome rape and murder of an eight year old girl in Kathua earlier this year.
While addressing a presser in Jammu, in which he once again demanded a CBI probe into the matter, Singh said, “They (Kashmir’s journalists) have created wrong atmosphere about the whole case. Now, I would like to ask them to draw a line of journalism and think about how to live.”
Shujaat Bukhari, veteran journalist and the founding editor of the English Daily Rising Kashmir, was assassinated on June 14 by unidentified gunmen outside his office in Srinagar, a day before Eid and few minutes before Iftaar (breaking of Fast during Ramzan). Bukhari succumbed to his injuries and was declared brought dead at the hospital.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein during his opening statement of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council on Monday said that he was deeply saddened by the assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
While calling him a human rights defender, Hussein said, “I am tremendously saddened by the assassination last week of Shujaat Bukhari, a courageous human rights defender actively working for peace, including through his participation in the Track Two diplomacy seeking to help both India and Pakistan put an end to the violence.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists while strongly condemned the killing of the editor said that Indian authorities must bring killers of Bukhari to justice.