Sena men vandalise IBN office

Sena men vandalise IBN office

The scene at the office of IBN-Lokmat after it was allegedly attacked by Shiv Sena activists in Mumbai on Friday. PTI IBN Network journalists and other employees were beaten up by the group. The attackers told the employees that they would not accept reports criticising the Shiv Sena. The Mumbai police claimed they had arrested seven Shiv Sena workers in connection with the incident.

The attackers manhandled IBN journalists as well as a few women staffers, besides reportedly thrashing IBN Lokmat editor-in-chief Nikhil Wagle, who has been one of the most bitter critic of the Shiv Sena. When the Sena-BJP came to power in 1995-99, he had launched his own newspaper ‘Mahanagar’, which too had been vandalised by Shiv Sainiks for its vituperative language in the past.

Sandeep Chavan, a journalist with IBN Lokmat, said the attackers told employees that they were looking for Wagle, and that they wanted to “teach him a lesson”. Chavan said the attackers were armed with iron rods, baseball bats and cricket wickets.
The IBN staff managed to hold five attackers, who were later turned over to the police. The vandals damaged computers, TV cameras and other expensive equipment in the office.

While reports of attack on IBN office in Mumbai were being flashed, another attack took place in the Pune office of the news channel. The attackers damaged an OB van and pelted stones on its office on Sinhgarh Road.  It appears the IBN staff in Pune had some inkling of the impending attack and had sought police protection. As a result, eight Shiv Sainiks were arrested there.

Maharashtra Chief minister Ashok Chavan told Network18 that the attackers would be punished. “We had no idea that such a thing was going to happen. Whoever responsible for this will be severely dealt with. Nobody has the right to assault journalists,” Chavan said.

The chief minister said the government cannot provide security to private offices and advised them to manage their own security.  Home Minister R R Patil too condemned the attack and said stringent action would be taken against the offenders. The police would also try to find out whether any political leader was behind the incident, he said.

Shiv Sena owns up responsibility

Shiv Sena spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut on Friday owned up responsibility for the attack on the IBN Lokmat channel offices in Mumbai and Pune, DHNS reports from Mumbai. “Shiv Sainiks are tigers. If anyone provokes them, they will give a fitting reply,” Raut said in a statement.

He described the attack on the channel’s offices as “spontaneous” and said the channel was using “derogatory” language in its constant criticism of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, particularly in reference to Sachin Tendulkar’s “Mumbai belongs to all Indians”. “Sainiks will not tolerate any derogatory remarks about Balasaheb; an insult to Balasaheb is an insult to Marathi manoos,” Raut, executive editor of ‘Saamna’, said.

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