Two Indian journalists beaten while probing suspected school scam

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a brutal attack on two TV journalists who were investigating the suspected embezzlement of state funding for schools in a tribal area of Gujarat state, in western India. Those responsible must be arrested quickly, RSF said.

One of the journalists, TV9 reporter Kuldip Parmar, was hospitalized with a broken leg after the attack on 4 October in which both he and his brother, cameraman Ashok Parmar, were badly beaten and temporarily abducted.

The assault took place after the brothers arrived at a school in the village of Kunvarsi. Men armed with sticks attacked Ashok as he waited outside the school while his brother went inside to talk to the principal. When Kuldip came out, he was also given a severe beating.

The two journalists were then bundled into a car and taken to a nearby farm where they were forced to drink alcohol with a woman while being photographed for blackmail purposes. After being threatened, the injured journalists were finally dumped at the side of a road near another village.

Ashok has identified their main assailant as Vadansinh Barad, the brother of Lakshman Barad, the leader of the local branch of India’s ruling BJP party.

“A physical attack of this kind cannot go unpunished,” RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said. “The beatings that this reporter and his cameraman received while doing investigative reporting in the public interest put all of the region’s journalists in danger. The police must carry out an investigation and severely punish those responsible.”

The two TV9 journalists went to the village to investigate the alleged misuse of state funding for schools in tribal areas. To combat illiteracy and promote secular education among India’s disadvantaged tribes and castes, the state has been building and assisting schools since 1990.

India is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.