A fallout between Delhi Police officials and journalists has been witnessed not only on the streets of Delhi, where several journalists from different organisations have been protesting against the manhandling of two female journalists, but also on the official WhatsApp group of Delhi Police, since the incident took place last week. The group is used by senior Delhi Police officers to disseminate information to journalists.
Several journalists were seen engaged in a verbal battle in the group, with reporters demanding answers from police officials on the incident and criticising the Delhi Police. Journalists also showed their displeasure and resentment after a senior officer from the Delhi Police asked journalists to meet at his office over coffee. Following this, several crime reporters have started leaving messages in the group and have been appealing to their fellow colleagues not to report on any of the PR activities of the Delhi Police and have been pleading to report only “negative” stories about the Delhi Police as a mark of protest and displeasure towards the alleged manhandling of the female journalists.
After a heated debated and continuous criticism of the Delhi Police on the messaging application, senior Delhi Police officers like Madhur Verma and Deependra Pathak, who have been holding the post of PRO (Public Relation Officer), were removed from the group by the Sub-Inspector (SI), Press, on Tuesday; these senior officers had apparently asked the SI to remove them from the group. Soon after this, several other journalists from some organisations started to exit the WhatsApp group.
In all, some 40 journalists have so far exited the official group of the Delhi Police. The group currently has 186 members, but all senior officials, who earlier used to communicate with reporters through the group, have been removed. Also, the official WhatsApp group, which had been functioning under the name of “PHQ-PRO”, was also changed to “PR & Briefing
Information” on Wednesday by the SI Press at the Police Headquarters in Delhi. The furore started after two female journalists were allegedly roughed up during a protest organised by students of the JNU in the national capital last week. Following this, journalists have been demanding organising a “Camera Down” protest outside the Police Headquarters here and have also been demanding a probe against the officials involved in the scuffle.