New Delhi: Washington-based Indian journalist Lalit Jha was on Saturday physically assaulted and verbally abused by Khalistan supporters in Washington DC while he was covering a pro-Khalistan protest outside the Indian Embassy on Saturday afternoon.
He shared a video of the Khalistani supporters on his official Twitter handle along with the caption, “Thank you @SecretService 4 my protection 2day 4 helping do my job, otherwise I would have been writing this from the hospital. The gentleman below hit my left ear with these 2 sticks & earlier I had to call 9/11 & rushed 2 police van 4 safety fearing physical assault.”
In the video, the Khalistani supporters can also be heard using abusive language against the Indian government and PM Narendra Modi.
The video contains abusive language, viewers discretion is advised.
Thank you @SecretService 4 my protection 2day 4 helping do my job, otherwise I would have been writing this from hospital. The gentleman below hit my left ear with these 2 sticks & earlier I had to call 9/11 & rushed 2 police van 4 safety fearing physical assault👇. pic.twitter.com/IVcCeP5BPG
— Lalit K Jha ललित के झा (@lalitkjha) March 25, 2023
Lalit K Jha, the US correspondent of the Press Trust of India, was covering the pro-Khalistan protest when he was attacked. However, he was promptly rescued by the US Secret Service and local police.
During the protest, the PTI reporter was obstructed by the protesters, who placed the Khalistan flag on his face and continuously pushed him. The protesters also threatened him with dire consequences, the news agency PTI reported.
Feeling endangered, the journalist called 911 and ran towards the other side of the road in search of a police van. One of the protesters abused the reporter and demanded to know what he was going to report. The organiser of the protest backed off when the journalist complained to the police about the harmful activities of the protesters.
According to PTI, later on, two protesters approached the reporters who were standing near the Secret Service personnel and one of them told the Secret Service that the reporter be asked to leave “my land,” which is federal property. They also warned that if there is any violence and the reporter is physically harmed, they should not be blamed for this.
The other protester verbally abused the reporter, using vulgar language, and moved two Khalistan flags in a way that their sticks hit the reporter’s left ear with a bang, as seen in the video shared by Lalit Jha.
The Secret Service personnel checked on the reporter’s well-being and warned the protesters that such behavior should not be repeated. They also requested additional reinforcement from the police, as per PTI.
A law enforcement official informed the protesters that it was public land and the reporter had the right to cover their protest from that area.
During their speeches, the protesters continuously pointed fingers at two reporters and verbally attacked them with abusive language. They also obstructed the journalists from performing their duties by not allowing them to report on the protest.
Additionally, some protesters filmed the reporters and took photos of them while asking them provocative questions.
The Indian Embassy in Washington DC condemned the attack on the PTI reporter.
“We have seen disturbing visuals of a senior Indian journalist from the Press Trust of India being abused, threatened & assaulted physically while covering the so-called ‘Khalistan protest’ in Washington DC earlier today,” the Indian mission said in a statement.
“We understand that the journalist was first verbally intimidated, then physically assaulted, and fearing for his personal safety and well-being, had to call in law enforcement agencies, who responded promptly,” the statement said.
The mission said it condemns such a grave and unwarranted attack on a senior journalist.
“Such activities only underscore the violent and anti-social tendencies of the so-called ‘Khalistani protestors’ and their supporters, who routinely engage in wanton violence and vandalism,” it said.
It thanked the law enforcement agencies for their prompt response in the matter.
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna condemned the act tweeting, “This violence against @lalitkjha is outrageous and an assault on journalism. I condemn it in the strongest terms. Lalit is one of the fairest and most thoughtful journalists. Thank you to our security for protecting Lalit and the diplomats and consulate.”
(With PTI inputs)
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