India: Brutal physical assault, cruel and inhuman treatment of a TV journalist and human rights defender Amit Sharma during the reporting of derailment of a goods train in Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh
June 28, 2019, 1:16 am

About the Human Rights Defender
TV journalist Amit Sharma works as a reporter with Hindi national TV channel known as
News24.He has extensively reported on corruption especially its prevalencein the GRP
forces. He has exposed the organised illegal nexus of the unauthorised vendors and GRPoperating in railway sector in Uttar Pradesh which involves huge illegal monetary transaction
in favour of the railway police.

Details of the Incident:
According to sources on June 11, 2019, TV reporter Amit Sharma had gone on a reporting
assignment to Dhimanpura gate of Shamli city in Uttar Pradesh. He was covering the train
accident that took place near Dhimanpura in which two wagons of a goods train derailed
around 8.50 pm on that day. A unit of the GRP including GRP Shamli’s station house officer
(SHO) Mr. Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay and a contingent of local journalists were present at the
site. Some of the police personnel were dressed in civil clothes. SHO Rakesh Upadhyay and
constable Sanjay Panwar objected to Amit’s presence at the derailment site. The policemen
entered into an argument with Sharma when he was covering the derailment of a goods
train.The policemen started thrashing Amit Sharma when he tried to film the incident for
news coverage. They were repeatedly slapping and punching the journalist.
According to local journalists, also witnesses to the incident, Sharma was not only beaten
but dragged all the way from where the accident occurred to the local GRP station, which is
located almost 200 metres away from the spot. They also abused him and locked him up. In
the graphic video of the incident that went viral on social media on June 11 night, the
accused GRP personnel, dressed in plain clothes, can be seen repeatedly slapping and
punching television journalist Sharma as he pleads with them to stop. Police officers
werepresent, however, they made no effort to try and shield or protect Sharma from those
assaulting him. Sharma was locked up in a police station in Shamli for the night and
according to the report, GRP personnel took his camera and snatched his mobile phone
which contained all of coverage on the railways.Sharma also claimed that he was stripped
by the cops and GRP Shamli’s SHO Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay urinated in his mouth.

Sharma was bailed out by two fellow journalists on June 12, 2019. After a protest by the
local journalists, the police registered a case against the four personnel, including the SHO
Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay on June 12, 2019 under provisions of the Indian Penal Code
pertaining to causing hurt (Section 323), insult (Section 504), abduction (Section 364),
robbery (Section 392) and wrongful confinement (Section 342). Of the four GRP officers,
Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay and Constable Sanjay Pawar were suspended on June 12, 2019.
This case is yet again an example of how a human rights defender is hounded and
victimised for his past work. This repressive action of the police is a result of exposing
corruption by journalist Amit Sharma so that he is deterred in the future to carry out such
Globally, Journalists who are human rights defenders as well face major risks as a result of
their work. Governments and other powerful actors, seeking to escape scrutiny and stifle
dissent, often respond to critical reporting or activism with attempts to silence them. Threats,
surveillance, attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, and, in the most grave cases, enforced
disappearance or killings, are too often the cost of reporting the truth. The protection of
journalists and human rights defenders, and ending impunity for attacks against them, is a
global priority for safeguarding freedom of expression. States are under an obligation to
prevent, protect against, and prosecute attacks against journalists and human rights
defenders. Creating a safe and enabling environment for their work necessitates legal
reform, the creation of special protection mechanisms, and protocols to guide effective
investigations and prosecutions where attacks occur. A free press and active civil society are
essential to ensure the public’s right to know, so that governments and institutions can be
held accountable