When Times Now reporter Jagori Dhar and cameraman Ahmed set up their camera equipment in Room 301 of the Supreme Court lawyers' chambers on Wednesday afternoon, they may have got more than they bargained for. They were looking for a routine interview with lawyer and Team Anna aide Prashant Bhushan. Instead, their camera captured a barbaric physical attack by two men on Mr. Bhushan.
According to Ms. Dhar's account of the incident on the channel, three young men appeared at Mr. Bhushan's office door as the camera was being set up, demanding an audience with the lawyer. He asked them to wait for 10 minutes while he spoke to the channel. Then, just as she had begun her first question on Mr. Bhushan's response to Law Minister Salman Khurshid's recent remarks on the Lokpal as a constitutional body, one of the men barged into the room and slapped Mr. Bhushan repeatedly. He was shoved and pulled out of his chair, pinned to the floor and kicked repeatedly. Ms. Dhar says an office boy, who was the only other person present in the room tried to help, following which lawyers outside heard the ruckus, rushed to the rescue and caught one of the attackers. Ms. Dhar said the entire incident took “several minutes.”
Throughout the action, the camera, set on its tripod, continued to roll, even panning to follow the fight as Mr. Bhushan was dragged to the ground. Neither the cameraman nor the reporter, who were across the table from Mr. Bhushan are visible in the footage later played on the channel.
“There was just one lady reporter there. What could she have done?” asked Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami when asked what the channel's policy was regarding intervention by journalists while covering violent incidents. “The cameraman didn't have any time to react...It was all over in a few seconds. By the time he could get around the table and try to intervene, Mr. Bhushan's security people had come in,” added Hector Kenneth, Editor of News and Operations, Times Now.
Activists and lawyers appeared appalled that the attackers managed to enter the chambers of a Supreme Court lawyer, and brazenly attack him in broad daylight in front of a television camera.
“It was completely circumstantial that we were there...We were not there to document the scene of crime on their behalf. It was not a stage-managed incident at all,” said Mr. Goswami. “We don't go out if we are told something is going to happen.”
The Times Now shared its footage of the attack with other news channels, most of whom played it repeatedly all evening. “We didn't want to make an exclusive of what was a very tragic incident,” said Mr. Goswami.