Four journalists covering the Agnipath protests in Patna were detained by police after one of them, Amir Hamza, was roughed up and shoved by a police officer. Hamza, a journalist working with a newschannel on Youtube ‘The Activist’, was arrested and is yet to get bail.
Of the four, Hamza was kept in the Kotwali police station lock-up in Patna Central while the other three, Vikas Vadav, Waseem and Patel, were released. Charged with obstructing a police officer on duty, Hamza was produced before a magistrate only today, on June 20. 2022, more than 24 hours after his arrest.
Ved Prakash, the editor of ‘The Activist’ told Free Speech Collective that Hamza’s lawyer pointed out to the Magistrate that police had detained Hamza without following any procedure in the morning. He was charged under Sec 353 of the Indian Penal Code on Saturday afternoon, remained in police custody all through Sunday and was produced before a magistrate more than 24 hour after his arrest.
Now, his lawyers have filed for his bail and he will be produced only tomorrow. Ved Prakash said there was no way in which Hamza had obstructed the police in their duty and was in fact, pushed around and shoved, as a video of the incident clearly showed.
The Jamui MP and Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan, who went to the police station to check out on the detained journalists, said that police told him they were kept in preventive detention and would be released after a few hours. However, only three of them were released later. It is still unclear why police decided to detain and charge only Amir Hamza. In a tweet, journalist Anmol Pritam said “आमिर हमजा का गुनाह बस इतना है वो आमिर है आलोक या अर्नब नहीं.”
But of the four detained, two are Muslim journalists. Ved Prakash said that Hamza was a trained journalist and had joined the service of ‘The Activist’ only one and a half months ago. A popular youtube channel with more than a million subscribers, ‘The Activist’ also has a facebook page, advocates a strong anticaste voice and speaks for the marginalised to cover social issues that “the mainstream media does not cover.”
In another incident, television news channel Aaj Tak said that its journalist and cameraperson were allegedly attacked in Masaurhi, while covering the protests. The channel’s website said: “An AajTak journalist and a cameraperson covering the ongoing protests against the Agnipath recruitment scheme were allegedly attacked by protesters outside Taregna railway station.”