Srinagar: After an uproar, Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture Minister Ghulam Nabi Lone today offered to tender an apology over the alleged thrashing of a journalist by his security personnel and expressed willingness for a probe to ascertain the fact.
As journalists here staged a protest against yesterday's incident, Lone insisted that he had given no orders to the security personnel to misbehave with anyone.
"I have all the respect for the general public and for the journalists in particular as I have myself edited a daily newspaper. And, if at all, their sensitivities are hurt, I am willing to tender my apology for the alleged act committed and as reported," he said in a statement here.
Yesterday, the journalist Javaid Malik had alleged that a security man first passed "lewd" remarks at his wife and then he was thrashed by several of the security personnel when he wanted to complain to the minister.
The minister said the report about Malik having been allegedly thrashed by his security guards has come as a "shock and surprise" to him.
"The fact is that a red car swiveled and slam-stopped in front of my vehicle and the driver of the vehicle rushed towards my car and tried to open the window of my vehicle. "He was stopped by the security guards and taken to police station, Chanapora. I strongly deny my involvement in the alleged episode and have no objection if the journalist so desires to initiate inquiry and to ascertain facts," Lone added.
He said the Security guards do not carry orders from any Minister or VIP whom they escort but follow their own protocol. "There is no question of my having used my security at any point of time in my long political career for any misconduct or any such alleged act. We uphold the dignity and honor of our people and it has never been our style to function as viceroys or dictators," he added.
The minister's reaction came after dozens of journalists, working for various local and national media houses, held a protest here, demanding his resignation and action against the accused.
Holding placards that read "Solidarity with Javaid Malik", "End VIP culture" and "CM must break his silence", the protesting journalists were supported by independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid, members of trade group Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) and some separatist groups.
They also held a peaceful sit-in at the commercial hub, Lal Chowk. "I and my wife were going to buy vegetables from the local market when the Agriculture Minister's motorcade started honking relentlessly at Bagh-e-Mehtab. I allowed the motorcade to passage as soon as possible," Malik had said yesterday.
The journalist alleged that some guards of Lone, who was sitting in one of the vehicles, picked up an argument with him, saying he had taken too much time in giving passage to the motorcade.