Centre to draft SOP for safety of journalists
A video camera and a microphone are seen near the site of the murder of gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf in Prayagraj on April 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will draft a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for safety and security of journalists following the April 15 incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj when mafia don-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother were shot dead by three persons posing as TV news reporters.
Ahmed and his brother Khalid Azim alias Ashraf were shot dead by three assailants while being escorted by about a dozen police personnel for a routine medical check-up.
A senior government official said on Sunday that an SOP was in the works for the safety of media persons when they follow an accused or interview them in police or judicial custody. The decision to draft the SOP was taken as per the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the official said.
The three accused — Lovelesh Tiwari, Sunny Singh and Arun Maurya — carried identity cards, a mic and camera. One of the accused shot point blank at Atiq Ahmed’s temple when he was interacting with media persons. The killings were captured live on television cameras. The First Information Report (FIR) registered by the police after the incident said the assailants threw the mic and camera and opened fire with semi-automatic weapons when the duo were speaking with reporters. The FIR said one of the accused was injured in cross-firing and some media persons were injured. It said some media persons were injured in a stampede-like situation when the incident occurred.

This is not the first time when the MHA has expressed caution on safety of journalists.
On October 20, 2017, the Ministry advised all States “to strictly enforce the law to ensure that a peaceful environment prevails, allowing journalists/media personnel to exercise freedom of speech and expression in their professional pursuit; ensure that investigations are concluded in a time-bound manner and public trust in criminal justice system is maintained.” (Courtesy: The Hindu)