While reports suggested that the victim Haider was a journalist, district officials denied it. Even the district magistrate O.N. Singh maintained that the injured person was not a journalist.
Principal Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal too denied an attack on any scribe and said that reports of a spurt in crimes against journalists were “unfounded”.
The condition of the victim – since admitted in a local hospital – is said to be “serious but out of danger”.
Police have arrested two persons – Sudhir and Pyare – for the attack and are trying to find the remaining accused.
Haider said he received an invite on phone on Sunday night to cover an event. After he reached the place, four people beat him up badly, put a chain around his neck, tied him to a motorbike and dragged him for over 100 metres.
After the attackers fled the spot, passers-by informed police and took a seriously injured Haider to hospital.
Officials said an initial probe indicated that the attack was an outcome of a “land dispute” between two brothers, Keshav and Anand.
Haider is said to have intervened in the dispute on behalf of Keshav, angering the other side.
The attack comes days after a social media journalist was allegedly set on fire in Shahjahanpur by henchmen of a minister of state in the Akhilesh Yadav government and another incident in which a journalist was shot at in Kanpur.
Shahjahanpur’s social media journalist Jagendra Singh, who died after sustaining 60 percent burn injuries during a police raid at his house on June 1, had before his death blamed minister Ram Murti Verma and his henchmen for his plight. The family is since demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressed concern over the “spurt in attacks on journalists” and questioned the alleged “silence” of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on the issue.
“It is strange that top leadership of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) is out to defend and protect the accused minister while lumpen elements are targeting the media fraternity,” said Vijay Pathak, a spokesman of the state BJP.
The chief minister should not only express his views on the serious issue but also act promptly against all people involved in crimes against the fourth estate, he added. (IANS)