“Wrote Notes On Legs In Jail For Report”: Journalist Mandeep Punia

Mandeep Punia’s arrest had triggered protests by fellow journalists, who demanded his immediate release.

New Delhi: Journalist Mandeep Punia, who had been arrested by the Delhi Police last week at the epicentre of farmers’ protest – Singhu border – triggering outrage, told NDTV in an interview on Wednesday that he didn’t stop working during his stay in the national capital’s Tihar Jail. The freelance journalist was released by a local court on bail on Tuesday.

Mr Punia, whose Twitter bio describes him as a “small journalist” who writes “notes” on grassroot politics, told NDTV that he had talked to farmers lodged in the jail and would soon write a long-form report on it. He said since he didn’t have paper to write on, he scribbled notes on his legs.

“My work is to write reports from ground zero. (Inside jail) I got the chance to talk with the farmers lodged in the jail. I asked them why and how they were arrested… I have written journalistic notes on my legs so that I can file a report (on conversation with the farmers),” he said.

A case under sections of laws that deal with “obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions”, “assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty”, and “voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty”, has been filed against Mr Punia.

Mr Punia’s arrest had triggered protests — both on the Internet and outside the Delhi Police headquarters — by his fellow journalists, who demanded his immediate release.

The opposition Congress had also slammed the government for arresting Mr Punia. “Those who fear the truth arrest true journalists,” senior party MP Rahul Gandhi had tweeted.

On being interviewed, Mr Punia said: “I never thought I would be interviewed as I have always been on the other side of the camera. I do what is called slow journalism in India. My work involves writing ground reports from rural areas. I write long form stories… since the government pressured me so much, I am in front of you”.

On Wednesday, Mr Punia wrote on Twitter that he should not have been arrested.

“I have been given bail and I am thankful to the honorable court, but I should not have been arrested in the first place,” he tweeted.

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