"Why Should I Be Scared?": Journalist Who Refused To Chant 'Jai Shri Ram'

Journalist Anmol Pritam who works at National Dastak was asked to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' during an event in Jantar Mantar.

On Sunday, as videos of a group raising violent anti-Muslim slogans during a protest in Jantar Mantar, the heart of Delhi, went viral, so did another video, of a journalist. In the video, the journalist is seen to be surrounded by a mob, asking him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. Anmol Pritam, the 24-year-old journalist who works with National Dastak, said, "For a moment, I thought the mob would kill me. I kept thinking to myself, should I give in?"

The video, which has gone viral, has led to massive online support for Anmol as the hashtag #ISupportAnmol started trending on Twitter this morning.

Anmol had gone to Jantar Mantar, where the protests were being held-- near the Parliament and top government offices. The protest rally was called by Supreme Court lawyer and former Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay "against Colonial-era laws" in the country. From the videos that have emerged, slogans threatening to killing Muslims alongside chants of "Ram, Ram" were raised there.

The National Dastak journalist said that when he reached the site with his cameraperson Ashish Thakur, they heard the mob raising "anti-Muslim" slogans. "They were saying Rohingya Muslims are the biggest problem in the country, that Muslim families produce 20 children... so I wanted to talk to them and ask them questions," he said.

In a video that has gone viral, a group of about 300-400 people is seen chanting slogans, "Jab mulle kaate jayenge to Ram-Ram chillayenge (When the Muslims will be killed, they will yell and shout Ram Ram)."

When the journalist asked the protesters about prime minister Narendra Modi's efforts in eradicating poverty in India, the crowd got angry. "I asked them what has the Prime Minister done about eradicating poverty, and that triggered them," he said. Soon after, the enraged crowd told him he is from a 'Jehadi Channel'. Anmol said he maintained his calm and told them that he only wants to ask them questions. "I just wanted to do my job," he said. The crowd started swelling as and more and more joined to shout at the journalist as they asked him to raise "Jai Shri Ram" slogans.

"If you want to live in this country, you will have to say it," a person can be heard telling the reporter in the video.

At this point, someone from the crowd put his arm around the journalist and asked him, "Muh me dahi jama hai kya? (The cat got your tongue?)"

"I was scared. I thought even if they don't kill me, they will manage to break my bones. I will probably have to sit at home for a while." Anmol said he kept asking himself, "Should I compromise and just utter the words they want me to?" As the mob's chorus grew louder, they heckled the journalist and tried to snatch his mic "I decided to stand my ground. I thought if I get injured I will recover but if I compromise, my soul will be dead," he said.

Anmol told the crowd that he won't raise the slogan because he feels it is a 'political one'. He then walked away and decided to do his piece-to-camera 500 metres away from the protest spot. But the crowd followed him. "They kept monitoring me throughout till I left the place," he said.

A day after the incident, the Delhi police has registered an FIR under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), against the unknown persons. The Delhi Police said that the organisers had no permission for the rally. They have also added Sections of 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 51 for violation of DDMA Act pertaining to violation of COVID guidelines.

Also Read: Anti-Muslim Slogans In Delhi; Police Files FIR Against 'Unknown' Persons

The crowd had people from various age groups-- old, young, retired, students. "I was surprised to see such young students take part in such a protest and raise these venomous slogans," he said.

The 24-year-old joined the Youtube-based news channel National Dastak in January. The Delhi-based journalist has been working as a freelancer, covering protests across the country, since 2018. Before entering the field of journalism, he studied Mass Communication and Journalism at Bhimrao Ambedkar College in Delhi.

Overnight, a hashtag started trending showing support for the journalist.

"I have been receiving so many messages, from senior journalists, politicians, activists. They are appreciating my work," Anmol said. "But I think what they are appreciating is the spirit of speaking with honesty. It's not just about my work," he added.

When asked what if he did get injured at that moment, he said, "What is there to fear? As long as I am alive, I should look alive."

Updated On: 2021-08-09T21:36:47+05:30
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