- TV channel blames MNS workers angered by molestation story
Mumbai, Jan 13 (mb): An outdoor broadcasting (OB) van of the TV channel IBN7 was ransacked on Friday night in Worli, and driver Ramsingh Kashisingh beaten up, by alleged Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers. While the channel blamed MNS for the vandalism, the party denied it.
According to Sanjay Singh, senior editor at IBN7, “We had criticised [MNS president] Raj Thackeray for his visit to RR Patil [on the recent Juhu molestation case]. The party workers took revenge by vandalising our van. It was a condemnable attack.”
He added: “On Friday, when we beamed the story criticising Thackeray, we gave the party a chance to give their version as well, by inviting one of their officials, Sandeep Deshpande, to the studio. He, however, alleged that we aired the story just to increase our TRPs. According to Singh, the IBN7 office was under police cover all of Friday for fear of an MNS attack, as the members had threatened.
Their attempts were foiled twice, but they succeeded in breaking our van,” he added.
Thackeray has denied this. “I was unaware about the incident till some reporters came to me on Saturday for my reaction,” he said. “How can one allege they were MNS workers? Were they wearing a cap or logo? The media has criticised me thousands of times, but there has not been a single incident where my party workers assaulted media people.
According to the police, the incident occurred around 12.45 am. “The driver said five or six unidentified men dragged him out of the van, and broke the windscreen and the headlights with bamboo sticks and stones,” said senior inspector Bharat Worlikar of Worli police station. In his statement, Kashisingh said, “After committing the act, the miscreants got on their motorcycles parked nearby, and sped away towards Haji Ali. As they were leaving, they shouted out ‘Yeh channelwaale TV pe kuchh bhi dikhate hain, aur logon mein galat fehmi paida karte hain’ (These channels air just about anything on TV and create a misunderstanding among the people).”
Worlikar said the channel suspected MNS official Kamaal Khan was behind the attack. “We have sent three police teams to different parts of the city in search of Khan and others. There is, however, no mention of Khan in the FIR filed by Kashisingh. We have also spoken to local MNS workers in Worli, but they said they had no idea about the incident,” Worlikar added. He said the police have registered a case of rioting and damaging vehicles, but would not interrogate Thackeray about it.
Home minister RR Patil condemned the incident and said he would initiate action against the offenders.