Right wing activists attack fourth estate ahead of state foundation day
By Sheetal Sukhija | Posted 01-Nov-2011
Around 40 activists allegedly from Sri Ram Sene, the right wing outfit infamous for resorting to violence at a whim and throwing law and order out of gear, barged into a local news channel office yesterday and ransacked it.
This was allegedly to protest against a 'demeaning' report on temples aired a fortnight ago, to gain some cheap publicity for the flagging outfit and create a fear psychosis.
Employees and passersby look on as police arrive at the news channel office, which was attacked by 40 right wing activists yesterday
According to senior journalists, the outfit meticulously engineered the date of attack to coincide a day before the 56th Karnataka Rajyotsava day celebrations, hoping to hog the limelight ahead of the foundation day.
However, sources within the organisation reveal that these activists had earlier informed a few journalists of the channel about a proposed peaceful protest outside their office.
Yesterday morning, around 40 activists from across the state, particularly from Kolar and Haveri districts, arrived at the venue. But shortly afterwards, the activists barged into the premises and created a ruckus.
"When the protesters saw that there were not many people outside the office, they changed plans and decided to barge in and damage our costly equipment.
They even abused our receptionists and tried to gain entry into the newsroom," said a senior reporter from the organisation. Even as junior reporters were shaken up by the incident, the channel management has deliberately played down the issue.
"It came as a shock to even the seniors present at the office. They claimed that they were furious over a show we aired at least 15 days ago. Why would they wait for a fortnight to voice their protest?
We think it is just a cheap way of gaining mileage ahead of Rajyotsava celebrations. As we don't not want to glorify their act, we have downplayed the issue," said a senior official.
When contacted, the management of the news channel refused to comment on the issue. Arrested activists continue protest in jail. The Ashok Nagar police has filed a complaint of trespass against the activists and arrested six of them for trying to barge into the office.
"There were around 15 activists at the news channel office when we reached there. These activists claim to be from the Shri Ram Sene. We are in the process of establishing whether they really belong to the outfit.
They claim that the media channel often airs news related to some malpractices going on in Hindu temples, which has hurt the sentiments of Hindus, who have high regard for temple and saints there," said Jagadish, inspector, Ashok Nagar police station.
Meanwhile, an activist who was a part of the protest claimed that the stories aired by the channel are often biased. "We do not have a problem with any media channel broadcasting any news against a temple.
However, they show one-sided and half-baked stories without any documents to corroborate their claims. This is why we decided to teach them a lesson," said Giri, one of the protesters. When contacted Pramod Muthalik, founder of Shri Rama Sene, feigned ignorance about the incident.
"We are not aware of any such incident. And if at all our activists have barged into the news channel's office and destroyed their equipment, why are they keeping mum on the issue?" he asked. The police are now investigating the case and are likely to submit a report within a week.