Aparna Kalra was badly beaten up while walking in a public park

By Usha Rani Das

A Delhi-based journalist is fighting for her life in hospital after she was brutally attacked on April 5 while strolling in a public park near her home in Ashok Vihar.  Aparna Kalra, 45, is critical with injuries to the frontal lobe of her skull. Police had registered a case of attempt to murder. No person has been identified yet due to lack of eyewitnesses. The motive of the attack is still unknown.

Kalra was lying unconscious in the park when she was spotted by locals. Police were informed and she was taken to Deep Chand Hospital. From there, she was shifted to Fortis Hospital at Shalimar Bagh.

A doctor at Fortis told Hindustan Times: “She had a lot of fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) collected in her brain cavities, and underwent an emergency surgery to remove it at late night.” The condition, called hydrocephalus, can be fatal. She is undergoing treatment now to determine whether the fluid collection has stopped and to review internal injuries.

JOUNALISTIC CAREER

After remarkable stints at Reuters, Mint and Business Standard, Kalra now freelances for Scroll, DailyO and IndiaSpend. She mostly covers education and gender issues, though occasionally she reports business too. Kalra has done breaking news, data journalism, features and investigations for more than a decade. Reuters’ editors had nominated her ‘Best in Asia’ in 2001 when, as the wire’s airlines and air cargo correspondent, she got, in a single day, the names of all the bidders for Air India in a sale.

Later when she was offered a job in Mint, Kalra chose to cover the education sector. At Mint, she did a lot of important and impactful stories. She was part of a series “Education Czars” which profiled owners of school chains and colleges and exposed how businessmen were making money in the sector. She also investigated graft charges against government-run regulators. Mint’s probe lasted six months. Following this the government ordered a CBI probe with some reluctance, and a few people went to jail.

GROWING HATRED TOWARDS JOURNALISTS?

A few days back on March 31, another journalist was attacked by four to five assailants, with their faces covered by handkerchiefs, at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai. While DNA correspondent Sudhir Suryawanshi had a fracture in the right hand, his friend Santosh Thatate who was with him also suffered injuries. Navi Mumbai police are probing the matter.

Journalists are slowly becoming crime victims with several incidents involving reporters being beaten up on the field surfacing in February. Besides, they have also become the most vulnerable pawns in the hands of the incumbent government at the centre. All this leads one to ponder over the future of free speech in India. Is the fourth pillar of democracy crumbling?

Image courtesy: aparnakalra.com