Attacks on Journalists
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) expresses its anger and anguish at the attacks on journalists, teachers and students on the Delhi University campus on February 22, 2017. There were several assaults on journalists covering the disturbances, by protesters as well as police who did not wear nametags. Phones were snatched, cameras grabbed and photographic evidence of the violence was destroyed.

The list of those journalists assaulted is long. 'Times of India' correspondent Somreet Bhattacharya and photographer Anindya Chaltopadhyay were beaten up. 'Quint' reporter Taruni Kumar has given a videoed statement of how ABVP women hit her, grabbed her phone, pulled her hair and broke her phone and mike. 'Quint' cameraperson Shiv Kumar Maurya suffered injuries on his head and reporter Anant Prakash was also attacked. 'Hindustan Times' reporter Ananya Bhardwaj was hit. 'Times Now' reporter Priyank and cameraperson Mazhar Khan were beaten. Photographer Anand Sharma too was beaten.

These attacks indicate a deliberate attempt to browbeat and muzzle the press whenever it tries to report violence by supporters and vigilante groups of the ruling party. An attack on the media is an assault on democracy. DUJ demands an inquiry and punishment for the guilty. There is ample videographic evidence on the social media of the violence. It is regrettable that even the February 2016 attacks on reporters by so-called lawyers at the Patiala House courts have gone unpunished.

Delhi Police is usually only too ready to lathicharge, teargas, detain or arrest those organizing any form of protest in the city. In this case it did not use any such tactics to restrain the ABVP students who attacked those holding a peaceful seminar at Ramjas college. On day two, when it should have been well prepared to ensure that no violence ensued between two opposing student groups, it permitted a riot like situation to go on for several hours. Journalists are seriously concerned at the deteriorating law and order situation in the capital city and call for restoration of peace on the University campus. Such violence puts at risk all citizens and particularly journalists trying to report objectively on unfolding events. It poses a threat to democracy, to the right to know and to free speech.
S K Pande, President,
Sujata Madhok, General Secretary,
Delhi Union of Journalists

Boycotting ‘Cola’ Drinks
It refers to news-reports about traders in Tamilnadu deciding to boycott sale of foreign-brands of soft-drinks. According to recent reports, Coca-Cola in its recent advertisement said that their products, Coke, Sprite, Thums Up and Limca, are not recommended for children. An RTI response confirms that Joint Committee on Food Management of Parliament through a communication dated 06.08.2003 had banned sale of all foreign-brands of soft drinks in catering centres and canteens of Parliament, also directing for immediate removal of display of refrigerators and advertisements of these products from Parliament complex. But public-health must not be considered less important than of Parliamentarians and others using Parliament canteens.

It is significant that cola-companies voluntarily stopped selling cola-drinks in schools worldwide in view of increasing obesity in school-going children. It is surprising that Indian government failed to notice such harmful effects of Cola-drinks and till now allowed sale of disease for children. At least Union Government can ban advertisements of cola-drinks because of hazardous and addicting effects of these drinks making children diabetic at young age. Earlier also, soft-drink manufacturers were asked to remove an oil from their products which was found to be harmful for health. Compulsory printing of ingredients on cola-bottles (including on refillable glass-bottles) will clear doubts about presence of any intoxicant or addicting substance in cola-drinks.

Union government, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and soft-drink manufacturers should revive drinks like old and famous rose-flavoured ones, which cannot only replace cola-drinks in India but even dominate global-market by breaking monopoly of harmful cola-drinks.
Subhas Chandra Agrawal, Delhi

Vol. 49, No.37, Mar 19 - 25, 2017