Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
They went there to report about the agitation of students after they received information that students started hunger strike. They were beaten up mercilessly. Their cameras and laptops snatched and destroyed. The assault on the reporters at Assam University, Silchar on 25 February 2011 was allegedly led by the university proctor and dean in charge of students' welfare.
According to information, a group of reporters and cameramen mainly belonging to Guwahati-based private television channels including 1. Mr. Samin Sen Deka (40yrs.), reporter, News Time Assam; 2. Bibhuti Mazumder, Silchar Correspondent, NE TV; 3. Anath Bandhu Nandi (Arup), Cameraman, Dy 365; 4. Anupam Mandal, Reporter, Frontier TV and 5. Paplu Das, Cameraman, Frontier TV, reached the university campus with their laptops, cameras and other equipments at about 12 noon on 25 February to report demonstration of students.
Hostel boarders of the university were observing hunger strike and resorted to blockade at the main gate of the campus demanding immediate uninterrupted water supply. Ratan Das, general secretary of Assam University Students’ Council told that drinking water crisis in the hostel was acute for a long time. Even there was scarcity of toilets. Students had been demanding for permanent solution, but the authority turned a deaf ear to it, he alleged.
According to the information, reporters had taken footage of the students’ agitation before they were attacked. At about 12.30 pm the proctor of the university Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury and Dean, Students Welfare Mr. Ramendu Bhattacharjee arrived while the scribes were sending the news through their laptops. The proctor started hurling verbal abuse at the journalists and demanded them to stop sending the footages. The journalists tried to talk to him, but the proctor got furious and started beating them. The security guards accompanying him also joined him.
According to Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi (Arup), one of the injured reporters, Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury first kicked at a laptop and then the guards jumped on them. At the behest of the proctor and the dean, the security guards kicked, punched and beat the journalists mercilessly. They snatched 3 laptops and 2 cameras destroyed them.
A group of agitating students rescued the injured scribes. Mr. Samin Sen Deka of News Time Assam, Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi (Arup) of DY 365, Mr. Paplu Das and Mr. Anupam Mandal of Frontier TV News, and Mr. Bibhuti Majumdar of NE TV sustained injuries. Mr. Samin Sen Deka was sent to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital due to the serious nature of his injury and others were treated at the primary health centre at the university campus.
The reporters later filed a complaint at Silchar Sadar Police Station, which is registered as Silchar PS Case No. 285/11. The complaint named Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury and Mr. Ramendu Bhattacharjee and security guards as accused.
It is also reported that the university authority did not allow the entry and reading of the Dainik Samayik Prasanga, a local daily newspaper inside the campus. This is an undemocratic and authoritarian attempt at stopping outside information from coming to the hostel boarders of the university coupled with the attempt of stopping flow of information from the university as evident from the assault on the reporters. It seems that the authority of the university are flouting law of the land and behaving as law unto themselves.
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organisation working in Assam, filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission on 3 March, 2011.