Why Chhattisgarh Journalists Wore Helmets While Meeting BJP Leaders

For a change, journalists normally seen with cameras and note pads, were seen wearing helmets at a BJP meeting in Raipur. They were protesting against attack on a journalist last week by BJP supporters in state capital Raipur. The journalists, who turned up wearing helmets at an event where BJP leaders were speaking, said they wanted to send a symbolic message to the BJP leadership – and also fulfil a practical need in case they are attacked again.

Journalist Suman Pandey, who works with digital news portal The Voices, was recording a meeting of the BJP’s district-level leaders in Raipur, party supporters jumped on him and thrashed him. Pandey received head injuries. Four BJP functionaries, including the party’s Raipur chief Rajeev Agarwal, have been arrested on a complaint filed by the journalist.

“I was recording a video of the meeting on my mobile phone when suddenly BJP leaders started arguing among themselves over some issue. Rajeev Agarwal and another person, Utkarsh Trivedi, told me to delete the video of the scuffle, which I refused. They then started hitting me and forcefully deleted the video,” Pandey had said.

“I was made to sit inside the meeting room for about 20 minutes. When I came out, I told other journalists about the incident,” he added.  Later, more journalists reached the BJP office, alerted the police and staged a protest demanding the arrest of those who allegedly thrashed  Pandey.

Chhattisgarh BJP spokesperson Sacchidanand Upasane, who was present in the meeting, said the party has apologised to Pandey, adding it was a closed-door meeting to discuss the defeat in recent assembly elections and journalists were asked to leave the meeting room after taking initial footage. “Party leaders and workers were also asked to keep their mobile switched off,” he added.

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