Indian daily attacked for the fourth time in six months

New York, September 17, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Wednesday’s attack on two media workers outside the offices of local daily The Arunachal Times in India and calls on police in Arunachal Pradesh state to increase security for the paper, which has been attacked three other times since March.

A group of unidentified men beat Ranjit Sarkar and Sunando Bora outside the newspaper’s Itanagar offices early Wednesday as they were about to begin their shift as machine operators, according to news reports. Sarkar and Bora were hospitalized, but their unspecified injuries were not life-threatening, news reports said. The attackers fled the scene on motorcycles, the reports said.

Wednesday’s attack occurred in the same spot that Times journalist Tongam Rina was shot in July, according to news reports. Rina underwent surgery at a local hospital to remove a bullet from her stomach and is now recovering, news reports said. In April, unidentified men broke in to the office and destroyed equipment, and in March, a computer technician was beaten outside the offices, the paper reported on its website.

It is not clear if any particular coverage is behind the series of incidents, or even whether the attacks are definitively linked. Rina told CPJ her coverage for the paper included corruption and political and environmental issues, and that she and her colleagues had received threats in the past in connection with different articles.

Police had posted security at the newspaper after the attack on Rina, but it had subsequently been withdrawn, the Times reported. News accounts reported that police had launched an investigation into Wednesday’s attack, but CPJ research shows the police have yet to solve the crime against Rina or any of the other attacks.

“This latest attack on The Arunachal Times shows that police have provided inadequate protection for a vulnerable paper and its staff,” said Madeline Earp, CPJ’s senior Asia program researcher. “Authorities in Arunachal Pradesh must step up their investigation into these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In an editorial, The Arunachal Times called the situation “deeply demoralizing” for their staff and journalists in the state. “The Arunachal Times has been emerging as [the] true voice of Arunachalee people. … Now it is up to the people of this state to decide whether they want their voice to be heard or let it get crushed,” the editorial said.

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