Supporters of Asaram Bapu attacked a television crew in Jodhpur on Saturday, injuring a reporter and a cameraman. Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
Asaram Bapu’s supporters had started pouring into Jodhpur early on Saturday morning. The IBN7 news crew was trying to film their arrival, when they were beaten up. Reporter Bhawani Deora and his cameraman suffered bleeding injuries.
Police registered cases under sections 307 and 395 of the Indian Penal Code, DCP Jodhpur (West) Ajay Pal Lamba told The-Hindu.
Police then sealed the borders of the district preventing more supporters from entering the city and asked those who had already come to leave.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot promised prompt action against the perpetrators. “It was an uncivilised act and should be condemned by everyone. Action will be taken against the accused,” he said. “There have been many such attacks in Gujarat. Some politicians in Rajasthan say the Gujarat model should be implemented here. Is this the model they want here?”
The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) condemned the attack. In a statement issued in New Delhi on Saturday, IJU president S.N. Sinha and secretary-general D. Amar said the unprovoked and brutal assault on journalists “was meant to scare away the media” and amounted to an attack on the freedom of the press.
The IJU urged the Rajasthan government to “take the strongest action against the culprits” to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Asaram Bapu’s son Narain Sai apologised to the media at a press conference in Indore. “We respect the media and apologise if anyone is hurt,” he is reported to have said.
The social media was abuzz with jibes at the godman, some angry, some witty. So much so, the hashtags “Indore” and “Jodhpur” were the trend on Twitter for hours.
“Assault on journalists by a religious preacher’s followers. Extremely disturbing and condemnable. Is this what they teach & preach to their flock?” tweeted Mr. Tewari.
“Camera broken and seized, journalist bleeding, Asaram “hides” in Indore ashram! Spiritual immunity??? Shame,” tweeted journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.
Supporters of Asaram Bapu tweeted: “Media harass, beat female devotees of #Asaram bapu & made false news 2 blame them! [sic]”.
The Jodhpur police on Saturday arrested Shiva, caretaker of Asaram, who had failed to appear before the police on Thursday, as directed by the court.
The IBN7 news crew was trying to film the arrival of Asaram Bapu’s supporters in Jodhpur
Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with the incident