Headlines Today editor Rahul Kanwal termed the attack on the TV Today Network office in New Delhi on Friday an attempt to “muzzle the press.”
“I have no problem to a protest but what they have done is grossly incorrect. They have not acted in a fair manner. If they had a problem with the contents of the story, they could have protested through democratic means. They could have approached the Editors' Guild, the channel editor or held a press conference. Barging into the office of a channel and indulging in hooliganism cannot be defended.”
Pointing out that the channel had prior information about the protest, Mr. Kanwal said: “Some of our people had received text messages today [Friday] morning warning them of the attack on the office in the evening. We had passed on the information to the police, but they seemed to have been caught off-guard. Only a handful of policemen were present when the mob attacked. Still, the police did a fair job by not allowing the protesters to reach the office. Several senior police officers visited our office in the evening and acknowledged that there was an intelligence failure.”
Security in-charge Shankar Dubey, who was present at the spot, said: “A handful of people gathered outside the building around 4.30 p.m. and raised slogans against the news channel. They were protesting peacefully, but a few minutes later a several thousand-strong mob appeared on the scene and tried to barge into the building. We had prior information about the attack and had increased the strength of security guards today. Over a dozen policemen were also present. But we were totally outnumbered by the protesters and they managed to get inside.''
The protesters, however, could not reach the fourth floor office of the channel as anticipating trouble, the security personnel had stalled lift operations earlier during the day.
Another security guard, Santosh Choudhary, added: “Once inside the building, the protesters resorted to vandalism for more than 15 minutes. Some of our security guards and policemen sustained minor injuries in the scuffle.''
The Delhi police booked 10 people for “unlawful assembly.'' These attackers owed allegiance to the Sangh Parivar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Jaspal Singh said. “We had been informed by the channel of the attack, but did not expect people to turn up in such a large number. As per our information it was meant to be a peaceful protest.''
The channel claimed that the tapes telecast by it were extracted by the investigation agencies from the laptop of an accused in the Malegaon blast case.
Editors Guild condemns attack
The Editors Guild of India has condemned the attack.
In a release, it said such methods to try and silence the media would only backfire.
“All organisations which believe in freedom of media must protest against such intimidating and uncivilised behaviour. It is particularly deplorable that there has been an attempt in some quarters to condone such hooliganism,” the Guild said. — PTI