Post our expose on how a local Shiv Sena leader has been accused of sexually harassing the wife of a police constable, a mob of hundred-odd people led by local office bearers of various political parities stormed into MiD DAY’s office and demanded an apology for the coverage.
They threatened to vandalise MiD DAY’s office in the presence of cops if we do not tender an unconditional apology. The mob also threatened the receptionist when she refused to get the editor on a phone line. The leader accused of the harassment, Sena’s Sion vibhag pramukh Shashikant Sawant, was not present in the crowd.
On Monday, MiD DAY had published a cover story (‘Cop begs Raj to save his wife from Sena man’s indecent proposal’, February 4, 2013) on how a police constable attached to the local arms unit had turned to MNS chief Raj Thackeray to stop the harassment of his wife by Sena leader Sawant. The cops said he had approached the MNS chief only after his many complaints and pleas to the police and the Shiv Sena elicited no intervention from either party.
Records show that Sawant has been booked by the Antop Hill and Mankhurd police stations, following complaints lodged by the constable’s wife. There is also a non-cognisable offence registered against Sawant at other police stations. Sawant had told MiD DAY on record that he had been arrested over the allegations, though he maintained that they are false.
The mob, mainly comprising special executive officers from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, gave this paper a three-day ultimatum to publish an apology, before leaving the office. The threat was issued in front of the police officials called by the staff when the mob turned aggressive.
When MiD DAY spoke with the parties’ representatives, they condemned the actions of their workers. Sena’s spokesman justified the act, stating that the mob was aggrieved and had only visited the office with a request. But the belligerent posturing of the crowd belied this claim. This is what the netas had to say:
Rahul Narvekar, Shiv Sena spokesperson
Sena cadres are law-abiding citizens. They may have gone to the office because they were aggrieved, and to request that all the sides should have been heard properly before printing the article. A police constable going to Raj Thackeray, a non-constitutional authority, to get his problem redressed shows that there was an ulterior motive. We never received any complaint against Sawant, or else we would have looked into the matter. [It bears mentioning here that MiD DAY’s report placed senior Sena leader Subhash Desai, Mumbai police spokesman Ambadas Pote as well as the accused Sawant on record in the matter. We had spoken with them and given their voice due prominence in the reportage.]
Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson
Give me the names of the people who belonged to our party and we would look into it. No one goes to a newspaper office and questions what they have printed.
When MiD DAY contacted Congress’ Hukumraj Mehta, president of the Mumbai South Central district, he said, “I will call you back.” But he did not. Nor did he respond to our phone calls or text messages.