Kolkata: On Monday, the media covering a Left protest in Kolkata was thrashed by the police without provocation. Today, the Kolkata Police thanked the media for saving a man in uniform, thrashed by alleged BJP workers.
The BJP was trying to march today to Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters. Three different rallies converged on it. They were stopped at police barricades some distance from their target.
After urging them to retreat, the police declared the rallies illegal and lathicharged. In the melee, one policeman in his early twenties got isolated and was assaulted by alleged BJP protesters. He fell. They jumped on his chest and beat him with the flat poles they had in their hands. Two journalists rushed to save him as he lay prone on the road in front of Paradise cinema hall on Bentick Street, nearly unconscious. “He had almost fainted. He could not stand up, he was shivering in fright and exhaustion,” said Tamaghna Banerjee, a reporter who rushed to rescue him.
With him was another reporter Sukanta Mukherjee and his cameraperson Debashish Moitra. They too rushed forward to help. “The police was beginning to lathicharge. We saw some five-six men carrying BJP flags push this policeman to the ground and start beating him,” said Sukanta Mukherjee. Joint Commissioner Supratim Sarkar, who addressed the press, said, “I thank the media persons for what they did. We are grateful.”
All three journalists who rushed to save the policeman were wearing the yellow vests with press written on them handed out by the Kolkata Police today.
The move was in response to protests by the media against unprovoked attacks on them by the police on Monday. On Tuesday, the media had held a silent march in Kolkata. The police commissioner, Mr Rajiv Kumar, had mooted the idea of the yellow press vests to avoid accidental assaults. To some extent, it seems to have worked, though some journalists said the police attacked them the vests notwithstanding.