Soorinje, 28, a TV journalist who documented a large-scale attack on young women and reported the episode to police in Karnataka state, was arrested by authorities in Mangalore on more than a dozen charges, including rioting and assault, according to local and international news reports. CPJ considers the arrest to be retaliatory.
Soorinje, among other journalists, had been tipped off that a large group of men were chasing, beating, and groping teenaged women at a local birthday party in July, the reports said. The assailants, described as Hindu hard-liners, were apparently angered that the women were associating with men at the party, according to reports.
On arrival, Soorinje reported the attack to police and filmed it for the Kannada-language news channel Kasturi TV, according to the New Delhi-based newsmagazine Tehelka. The 43 other individuals who were charged were identified on the basis of Soorinje’s footage, Tehelka reported.
Soorinje has denied taking part in the attack. His news report accused police of responding slowly to his repeated calls reporting the assault, and of “chatting” with the assailants once they did arrive, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said in a statement. Human rights activists have broadly accused police in Karnataka of allowing attacks against women as a supposed form of “moral policing,” the BBC reported. Karnataka is led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
A Mangalore court denied Soorinje’s request for bail on November 27, according to G. Vishnu, a Tehelka journalist reporting on the case.