Harassment of five women reporters of a women’s-only news publication based in Banda in Uttar Pradesh and the casual approach of police on the issue has once again put focus on the security of women reporters in the country’s small towns.
“Police called harassment of five of our team members by an unidentified caller for months an ordinary thing and it was long before it took the case seriously,” Kavita, editor of the Banda-based ‘Khabar Lahariya’, told IANS over the phone.
“An unidentified person, who called himself Nishu, was calling up five of our reporters since January. There would be over 90 missed calls to me and my reporters some days,” she said.
For three months, Kavita said, the person who called from different phone numbers, continued to threaten, intimidate and stalk the women reporters.
“As reporters, we would be out in the field reporting or interviewing people. We would be disturbed constantly, sometimes at odd hours at night when we would be home,” Kavita said.
Women reporters, who covered issues of crime, politics or other social issues, often felt troubled with calls even at midnight, she said.
“He would call during late midnight hours, sometimes at 2 a.m.. and use abusive language,” Kavita said.
An FIR was filed against the caller on January 22, which was “only an ordinary case for police, despite repeatedly calling on us to give statements”, Kavita said.
“There is need for ensuring security of women reporters in small towns and cities. The 1090 helpline for women was never in place and there are many instances of men’s insensitivity towards women colleagues in districts of Uttar Pradesh,” she said.
It was only after a media report that authorities made police take up the case seriously and take the accused into custody.
Banda Superintendent of Police Rakesh Shankar said that accused Saddam alias Nishu was found in possession of over 40 mobile SIM cards.