Indian authorities must drop the charges against journalist Santu Pan, who was arrested live on air while reporting on allegations of abuse by West Bengal officials, and investigate the earlier assault of three journalists reporting on clashes related to one of those officials, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday.

On Monday, police arrested Pan, who works for the privately owned news broadcaster Republic Bangla, while he was reporting from a woman’s home in the village of Sandeshkhali, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of West Bengal’s state capital, Kolkata, and remanded him in police custody for three days, according to news reports. Pan’s arrest was captured in a video by Republic World. 

Pan, who was freed on bail on Thursday, was reporting on weeks of protests by local women over alleged rape and sexual assault by officials with West Bengal’s ruling All India Trinamool Congress (AITC). One of the alleged assailants has fled, while another was arrested.

On Thursday, Calcutta High Court ordered a stay on further proceedings in the police investigation into Pan for violating multiple sections of the penal code. If charged and found guilty of criminal trespass, Pan could face imprisonment for up to three months; for house trespass, imprisonment for up to one year; for outraging the modesty of a woman, imprisonment for up to three years; for voyeurism, imprisonment for up to three years; and for criminal intimidation, imprisonment for up to two years.

The unrest in Sandeshkhali started on January 5, when hundreds of supporters of an AITC official attacked federal officials with the Enforcement Directorate who had arrived to conduct a raid on the official’s house over an alleged scam regarding government-subsidized food distribution, according to news reports. Several officials were injured, their vehicles set on fire, and their laptops and phones were looted, those sources said.

Journalist Ayan Ghoshal of the privately owned news broadcaster Zee 24 Ghanta and reporter Sandeep Sarkar and camera operator Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya of the privately owned news broadcaster ABP Ananda were stoned, beaten with sticks, and kicked, during clashes between crowds and officials in Sandeshkhali, those sources said, as well as Ghoshal. Their cameras and other equipment were stolen and broken, and their vehicles were damaged, those sources said.

Sarkar said in an interview with his outlet ABP Ananda that he was beaten by the crowd and forced to unlock his phone. When the crowd saw the photos that he had taken, Sarkar and his driver were beaten again, their car was damaged, and their video live streaming equipment was stolen, he said. The crowd also beat his colleague Chattopadhyaya and snatched and broke his camera, Sarkar added.

In an article in The Telegraph an anonymous journalist said that they were chased and beaten by people who snatched their camera and destroyed it. They are undergoing medical tests after vomiting, they added. Ghoshal told CPJ that his vehicle was the first to be targeted and damaged by the crowd with stones, bricks, and sticks.

“It is disturbing to witness the growing intolerance of press freedom in West Bengal,” said Kunāl Majumder, CPJ’s India representative. “Authorities in West Bengal must drop all charges against journalist Santu Pan, investigate the violence meted out against reporters covering unrest in Sandeshkhali, and ensure that the media can do their jobs without fear or interference.”

West Bengal Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar did not respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment on the incidents.