A policeman tries to enter through one of the gates in Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple complex in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala, February 20, 2012. A local newspaper filed a complaint with the Thiruvananthapuram rural district police after policeman allegedly attacked one of its journalists. (Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

Indian police beat up local journalist after unflattering article

September 27, 2017 11:51 AM ET

New Delhi, September 26, 2017--Authorities in India must thoroughly investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators behind an attack on journalist Sanjeev Gopalan in the southern Kerala state, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Local police in the town of Varkala on Sunday beat up Gopalan, a reporter for the Malayalam-language Kalakaumudi Weekly newspaper, in front of his house, according to a report on the national news broadcasting network NDTV and the Kalakaumudi Weekly's chief reporter, Sreekumar, who goes only by his first name. According to these sources, two police and a sub-inspector beat the journalist with their bare hands.

Gopalan's eyes and knees are swollen, and he has been admitted to the local hospital in Varkala, Sreekumar told CPJ.

"They tore up my clothes, and stripped me in front of my wife and child," Gopalan told CPJ from the hospital.

Sreekumar told CPJ that Gopalan was attacked because of a story his colleague wrote several months ago that accused the police of failing to protect two women who complained of harassment.

Gopalan said he heard police mention the article as they beat him, according to the NDTV article.

The Kalakaumudi Weekly filed a complaint with the Thiruvananthapuram rural district police who oversee the police in Varkala, according to Sreekumar.

"Police should not attack journalists for their reporting," said CPJ's Asia program coordinator, Steven Butler, from Washington D.C. "Indian authorities must thoroughly investigate this beating of Sanjeev Gopalan and ensure the perpetrators do not get away with this."

Asok Kumar, the district police chief, told CPJ, "We have ordered an inquiry into the matter. Only after it is complete and a report has been submitted can we comment on the case."

NDTV reported that, after the alleged beating took place, local police filed a case against Gopalan and three others on accusations that the group assaulted police officers who tried to stop them from drinking in public.

According to a 2016 CPJ special report, "Dangerous Pursuits," journalists in small-town India face a greater risk of attacks than those working in larger cities.

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