Outrage as Deccan Chronicle Office in Visakhapatnam Attacked Over Political Dispute

Visakhapatnam, India – A violent attack targeting the Visakhapatnam office of the Deccan Chronicle newspaper on Wednesday has elicited strong reactions across the political and journalistic spectrum, underscoring a rising concern for press freedom in the region. The incident, involving alleged affiliates of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), followed the publication’s report critical of a local political issue.

Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, president of the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRC) and former chief minister, denounced the assault. He voiced his disapproval on social media, categorizing the attack as an attempt to suppress an unbiased media and an infringement on democratic principles in Andhra Pradesh. Reddy urged the current administration to take responsibility for safeguarding democratic values and media freedom.

The disputed report that triggered the aggression was titled ‘Alliance takes U-turn on VSP privatisation’ and discussed the shifting political stances concerning the privatization of the Visakha Steel Plant—a topic of significant local and national interest.

Gidugu Rudra Raju, a former PCC chief, characterized the attack as a direct threat to the freedom of the press and democracy. He criticized the violent response as inappropriate, advocating for disputes to be handled through dialogue and legal means rather than through physical assaults.

The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) also condemned the attack, highlighting the importance of journalistic freedom. Amar Devulapalli, a member of the IJU steering committee, emphasized that such actions against the press could not be tolerated and called the incident an egregious affront to press freedom. He praised the Deccan Chronicle for its longstanding commitment to journalistic principles.

In contrast, Nara Lokesh, Andhra Pradesh’s minister for education, IT, and electronics, and a member of the TDP, denounced the violence and appealed for calm among party supporters. He stressed the importance of expressing dissent through peaceful means.

Echoing Lokesh, the Deccan Chronicle Employees Union issued a stern rebuke of the attack, underlining it as an unlawful act. K. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the union’s general secretary, called for political and social solidarity in condemning the assault and ensuring the safety of journalists and media workers.

Local political figures, including former MLA Malladi Vishnu of the YSRC, criticized the opposition for failing to protect press freedoms and clarify their position on policy issues such as the Visakha Steel Plant, connecting the attack with broader democratic and civil liberties.

Ch. Babu Rao, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretariat, joined others in demanding strict action against those responsible for the attack and articulated a need to safeguard free speech.

The incident has also prompted healthcare professionals within the YSRC, like Mehboob Sheikh and Dr. Ambati Naga Radhakrishna, to denounce the rise in attacks on the press in Andhra Pradesh, signaling a deteriorating environment for journalistic and democratic practices since the return of Chandrababu Naidu as chief minister.

As the local government and civil society grapple with these events, the implications for press freedom and political accountability in Andhra Pradesh remain significant. The collective response from various quarters calls for a reaffirmation of democratic ideals and the protection of journalists, who play a critical role in maintaining an informed society.