Indian cameramen attacked covering political clash

New York, June 11, 2013–Indian authorities should bring to justice the perpetrators of an attack on three cameramen in Kolkata, capital of eastern West Bengal state, on Friday, in which one reporter was almost burned alive, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

News accounts reported that the journalists–Barun Sengupta of Chhobish Ghanta TV, Astik Chatterjee of ABP Ananda TV, and Tona Singha Roy of Kolkata TV–were attacked while covering clashes that had erupted between two rival factions in connection with a murder that had taken place the previous day, reports said.

Chatterjee told reporters the assailants attacked him with canes and bricks, confiscated his phone, and damaged his camera, the reports said. Sengupta filed a police complaint in which he said the attackers doused him with gasoline and were about to light him on fire, but law enforcement arrived on the scene, according to the reports.

A local hospital treated Sengupta and Chatterjee for severe head injuries and listed them in critical condition on Friday, reports said. News accounts reported on Monday that the journalists were no longer in critical condition.

The reports said that the assailants were carrying flags of the ruling Trinamool Congress party, which is headed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The ruling party has denied that its party members were responsible for the attack.

“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must use her influence to ensure justice is delivered in this attack,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Swift action against the attackers will signal that such senseless violence against journalists is unacceptable in democratic India.”

At least 14 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, according to news reports. The attack is also being investigated by the state’s human rights commission, reports said.

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