NEW YORK - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent watchdog body, has expressed concern over this week's attacks against journalists in India, especially the lawyers assault on reporters covering a high-profile sedition case that puts into sharp focus the state of press freedom in the country.

"CPJ has reported frequently on journalists there coming under attack from police, criminals, politicians, and others. Now lawyers have to be added to the list," a blog posted on the organization's web site said.

On Monday, lawyers threatened, manhandled, and beat several journalists inside Patiala House court complex in New Delhi as they attempted to cover a court hearing of Jawaharlal Nehru University student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, whose case has sparked a fierce national debate on free speech.

The journalists said they recognized some of their assailants as lawyers, and that others wore the black robes of legal professionals, according to media reports. Journalists belonging to NDTV, the Indian Express, Economic Times, IBN7, the Indo-Asian News Service, and regional outlets were targeted. Many gave accounts of being attacked or witnessing colleagues being beaten.