In a shocking incident threatening the media’s freedom of speech and expression in Maharashtra, a group of Shiv Sainiks on Friday led an outrageous attack on the offices of leading news channels IBN Lokmat and IBN7 in Mumbai and Pune. With sticks, they vandalised the offices and beat up journalists, including women.
Praveen Mudholkar, Associate Editor of the leading Marathi channel IBN Lokmat said in a statement, “The first attack was in Mumbai, where around 15 Sena activists barged into the office at Vikhroli and started beating up journalists. They also damaged property. Five of the attackers were nabbed by the staffers and beaten up.
“The second attack was on IBN’s office in Pune, which was ransacked. Suspected Sena workers were pelting stones in Pune. In yet another incident an IBN outdoor broadcast van was also attacked.”
Five people sustained minor injuries in the attack.
Nikhil Wagle, head of IBN Lokmat, was one of the targets of the attacks. Wagle is known for his outspoken views against the Sena’s politics.
Speaking about his attack on television, Mr. Wagle said, “I don’t know why they have targeted us. The Sena is a divided party taking out its frustration [for electoral losses]. The media has become a soft target. I was having lunch in the canteen around 3.45 p.m. when I saw some 15 people entering the office with sticks. They broke the glass at the reception and slapped the receptionist. Then they saw me and said, ‘This is the man who criticises the Sena’, and threw a chair at me. They slapped me two to three times. Women were also not spared.”
According to the CNN IBN, the attacks were prompted for misquoting Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s article on Sachin Tendulkar.
Sanjay Raut, Sena MP and editor of the party mouthpiece Saamna admitted the attackers were Sainiks.