“My mind went blank as they kept beating me. My pleadings to the police went unheard,” Raghav Trivedi, a 27-year-old journalist working with ‘Molitics’ a Delhi-based online portal who was assaulted, allegedly by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers, told The Citizen.

The assault took place at an election rally of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Rae Bareli Sunday. Trivedi, who is a video journalist for ‘Molitics’ YouTube news channel, said that some people, allegedly associated with the BJP, attacked him after he questioned them about statements made by some women attending the rally.

Trivedi said he had gone to cover Shah’s rally in Rae Bareli and asked a few people there why they were there. “There were some women there who told me that the Pradhan had given them Rs. 100 and asked them to attend the rally. They did not even know Amit Shah and it was all on record,” Trivedi said.

After his ‘questioning’ by five to six people turned into a mob of 30, Trivedi said they asked his cameraman to delete the footage, which he refused.

“They beat me brutally. Dragged me from the place where the media stood to the stage and beat me in front of hundreds of people who clapped and cheered, not knowing the situation,” he alleged.

Based on a complaint filed by Sanjeet Sahni, a cameraman and an associate of Trivedi, an FIR was registered against six unidentified persons under Sections 147 (rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the IPC.

Rae Bareli Circle Officer Amit Singh said an investigation had been initiated but no arrest had been made until evening.

“Initially, they denied any wrongdoing but when I informed them I had recorded statements of women, a group forcibly took me to a secluded place and demanded I delete the recording.

“When I refused, they began to assault me… I pleaded with police and bystanders for help, but no one intervened…

“I lost consciousness. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in hospital,” he said.

Trivedi also alleged that the men started calling him “mulla” (a derogatory term used for Muslims in India) as he had long hair and beard.

“The thing that really made me sad was knowing that if I were a Muslim, I would not have left the place alive. Leave alone the fact that I tried to show them my badge at that moment,” he added.

The young journalist said he has received injuries on his stomach, back and head. “I was just doing my job,” he added.

Meanwhile, former Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel met Trivedi at the district hospital and called the incident “a direct attack on democracy”.

The act has received a lot of criticism from journalists and intellectuals alike.

In a statement, the Press Club of India said it “vehemently condemns” the attack on Trivedi.

Following the assault, the Press Club of India urged the Election Commission and the local administration to ensure strict action against the attackers.

“Journalists in their day-to-day reportage have been subjected to regular physical intimidation, harassment and attack,” said the press body.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international journalist body also condemned Sunday's assault on Trivedi and called on authorities to thoroughly investigate the incidents and bring those responsible to justice.

Trivedi has released the video on his social media where the women are seen telling him they were told “Narendra Modi was coming for the rally”.

“They have told us they would give us money but let us see,” a woman is said to have told Trivedi.


A video where Trivedi is being beaten up by a mob was also going viral on social media. In the video of the incident police persons can be seen in the vicinity while Trivedi is beaten, but do not intervene.

He confirmed to The Citizen that the police did not intervene. “One police personnel asked them to stop once but then moved back and did nothing,” he added.

Several Opposition parties and leaders have come out strongly in Trivedi’s support, and condemned both BJP workers and leaders and the Uttar Pradesh police for the incident.

“These incidents are a sign that the people of BJP are frustrated with the defeat that is visible. Now the injustice is about to end,” the Congress posted on X.

Journalists often have to face obstacles in India as the curb on freedom of speech increases day-by-day.

On February 9, senior journalist Nikhil Wagle, who is known to be “critical” of the government was targeted when his car was stoned and beaten by supporters of BJP as he was on his way to speak at an event in the western city of Pune.

In comments to reporters after the attack, BJP state Assembly representative Nitesh Rane said Wagle “got away easily.” And he added: “The work of Pune BJP has remained incomplete. Sometime later the work should be completed, and if they can’t do it otherwise, they should call me.”

Just a day before in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani, journalists were denied access to the area when the authorities reached to demolish a mosque and a madrasa that they alleged was illegally built.

The action triggered a wave of violent protests in which five people were killed. The authorities ordered the police to shoot on sight, imposed a curfew and suspended Internet services.

However, days later, when journalists tried to enter the area, they were stopped from going in. Some journalists who went from Delhi told The Citizen that even when they somehow managed to enter the Muslim colonies, they were targeted and forced out of there.

“They were ready to beat us,” the journalist said.

Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit and non-governmental organization focused on safeguarding the right to freedom of information in a recent statement condemned the “oppressive climate” that the journalists are subjected to.

“With just two months to go to the elections scheduled for April and May, journalists are being harassed by the authorities and subjected to multiple attacks aimed at silencing those who are outspoken. RSF condemns the oppressive climate that is taking hold in India and is liable to undermine pluralistic and transparent coverage of the electoral process.

“We call on the government to guarantee journalists’ safety and the right of access to news and information and to end all harassment of media personnel,” the RSF said in a statement.

Not just Indian journalists, but foreign journalists working in the country have to also bear the brunt.

Vanessa Dougnac, a French journalist based in India since 2001 reporting for French-language publications such as the newsweekly ‘Le Point’ and the newspapers ‘Le Soir’ and ‘La Croix’, was notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 18 January that her status as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) was being withdrawn because of her “malicious and critical” articles.

Her work permit renewal application had been refused 17 months prior to that without any reason being given.

Meanwhile, Australian journalist Avani Dias, the India correspondent for the ‘ABC’ since January 2022, said that she was forced to abruptly leave the country, after a government official told her she’d crossed a line with reporting a Sikh separatist story, which aired on the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent show, and her podcast, ‘Looking for Modi’.

Not just on the field, journalists are also facing FIRs and cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act )UAPA) against them for merely doing their jobs.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists has noted a record number of journalists being arrested or facing criminal charges since the last election and news outlets targeted by government raids for tax evasion.

Journalists across the country have reported that their work has been censored, editors have been forced to resign, and formerly independent news outlets have been bought.

From Manipur to Kerala, journalists are being attacked for doing stories. The recent UAPA cases against ‘NewsClick’ journalists is another travesty and serious threat that they are facing in the country.

‘NewsClick’ founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha has been accused of several grave allegations in a chargesheet filed against him by the Delhi police. According to the chargesheet, the digital news organisation propagated “information warfare” in order to “subvert [India’s] psyche” on behalf of the Chinese government.

This was allegedly done through, among other things, funding Naxalite and Kashmiri separatist organisations, spreading a disinformation campaign on Covid-19, the “stoking and sustaining” of the 2020 Delhi riots and fomenting the farmers’ protest movement across India.

The charge sheet was filed by the police on March 29 but became available in the public domain in the first week of May.

Purkayastha has been booked under several sections of India’s stringent anti-terror law, the UAPA Sections 13 (punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy etc) and 22C (punishment for offences by companies, societies or trusts) – along with Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The charge sheet also includes the head of its human resources department, Amit Chakravarty (who is also a witness in the case), cites Sections 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for terrorist acts), 18 (conspiracy) and 22 (C) (offences by companies, trusts) in the UAPA, along with IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different group) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

Sec 153 A against the media is another favourite of the law enforcing agencies and has been used against a number of journalists, including Neha Dixit and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

In “Behind Bars”, Free Speech Collective’s study of a decade of journalists arrested in India (2010-20), 154 journalists in India were arrested, detained, interrogated or served show cause notices for their professional work and a little over 40 per cent of these instances were in 2020.

Nine foreign journalists faced deportation, arrest, interrogations or were denied entry into India.

Speaking to The Citizen, Ghazala Ahmad, a journalist based in Delhi working with ‘Maktoob Media’, an independent media organisation, said that attacks on journalists are not happening for the first time, however there is no proper procedure for a journalist, especially from alternative media, to safeguard themselves.

“When such incidents happen people talk about it on social media, stories are written but there is no criteria or a procedure that has been set up to safeguard journalists if something like this happens. Maximum journalist bodies will condemn and take out a statement but no concrete action is taken on such incidents,” she said.

She added that the time has come that something credible should be done. Ahmad, said that in Trivedi’s case where he was perceived as a Muslim and beaten more, only shows how dangerous the situation is for a Muslim reporter.

“My parents sometimes ask me to be extra careful or avoid some assignments where they know I can be attacked. This is also alarming,” she added.

A Jharkhand based journalist was forcibly smeared with mud by 10 to 15 men during Holi.

Gulzar is a 27-year-old Journalist who works for Video Volunteer, a social services organization based in Goa.

His bike was stopped midway, after which the men proceeded to pick up mud from a drain nearby and smeared it all over his face and eyes. As he began to leave, the group of men threw a brick at his back, causing minor injuries.

Meanwhile, in March several photojournalists were manhandled by Delhi police personnel during protests by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at Delhi’s Patel Chowk over chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest in the liquor case.

Salman Ali of ‘Hindustan’ received a fracture in his left hand while a picture showed a police officer holding Arun Thakur of ‘India Today’ by his neck and other police personnel purportedly heckling several other men with cameras.

An argument had ensued between some media professionals and the police as the latter allegedly threatened to detain journalists while telling them to not move ahead.

“Sometimes as a journalist, I would want to cover everything that is happening in the country like Ram Mandir, but I cannot, especially as a visible Muslim journalist. All this frustrates me,” Ahmad added.

In the recently released 2024 World Press Freedom Index, India ranked at 159 of 176 countries. Reporters Without Borders, which releases the rankings, said that India’s position is “unworthy of a democracy”.

“With violence against journalists, highly concentrated media ownership, and political alignment, press freedom is in crisis in “the world’s largest democracy”, ruled since 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and embodiment of the Hindu nationalist right,” RSF stated while releasing the data.

India was also mentioned in its report titled ‘Asia – Pacific: Press freedom under yoke of authoritarian governments‘. Here, RSF said that India’s two-rank upgrade was “misleading”, as its scores fell but the change in position was due to worse falls by countries previously above it. India “was pushed up two places despite recently adopting more draconian laws. Its new position is still unworthy of a democracy”, the report noted.

In its country report on India, the RSF stated that the press freedom situation has deteriorated on various counts since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.

“Reliance Industries group’s magnate Mukesh Ambani, a personal friend of the prime minister, owns more than 70 media outlets that are followed by at least 800 million Indians.

“The NDTV channel’s acquisition at the end of 2022 by Gautam Adani, a tycoon who is also close to Modi, signalled the end of pluralism in the mainstream media. Recent years have also seen the rise of “Godi media” (pun for designating Modi’s “dogs”) – media outlets that mix populism and pro-BJP propaganda.

“Through pressure and influence, the old Indian model of a pluralist press is being called into question. The prime minister is very critical of journalists, seeing them as “intermediaries” polluting his direct relationship with his supporters.

“Indian journalists who are very critical of the government are subjected to harassment campaigns by BJP-backed trolls,” it noted.

Across the world, RSF noted, “A growing number of governments and political authorities are not fulfilling their role as guarantors of the best possible environment for journalism and for the public’s right to reliable, independent, and diverse news and information.”

Several of India’s neighbours have ranked slightly better than it – Pakistan is at 152, Sri Lanka at 15, Nepal at 74 and Maldives at 106. On the other side of the rankings, Afghanistan is at 178, Bangladesh at 165 and Myanmar at 171.

“I thought the police would save me, which is why I had initially run towards them. But they did not do anything. There were 20 people beating me it felt as if I would be mob lynched,” Trivedi added.

With ongoing Lok Sabha elections, more journalists are on the ground trying to cover the mood of the public and many have to face such incidents in rallies. From being mistreated by party members or even candidates, journalists said that they have to be extra careful regarding their safety these days.