Police pick up journalist as Patil questions how he captured ink attack; journalist bodies register protest

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Hours after Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Patil questioned his role in the ink attack case, Pimpri-Chinchwad police picked up television journalist Govind Wakade for questioning during the wee hours of Sunday.

Though he was allowed to go home after a few hours, Police seized Wakade’s cellphone and asked him to report to the police station again at 9am. Wakade was still at the Chinchwad police station at the time of going to the press late on Sunday.

“We are investigating his role…I can’t say anything at this stage,” Police Commissioner Ankush Shinde said when asked if Wakade would be arrested in the case.

Meanwhile, journalists associated with different bodies in the region expressed condemnation for the minister’s accusations against the journalist and the police’s resultant action in the case. A number of them gathered at the Chinchwad police station to lend support to Wakade.

“I was picked up at 1.30 am…Three-four policemen came to my residence in the thick of the night and told me that the police commissioner has summoned me,” Wakade said during the early hours of Sunday.

The journalist works for IBN Lokmat — a joint venture of Network 18 and Lokmat Group — and covers the industrial city of Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Following the ink attack on the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Chinchwadgaon area, videos of the minister seeking action against the journalist had surfaced on the internet. “How did that journalist get the exact angle when the ink was being thrown at me? Who is that journalist? If by tomorrow morning, this journalist is not traced, I will sit on a fast at Pimpri police station…” Patil was heard saying in a video.

In another video, Patil is seen asking: “Did he plan this, asking someone to throw ink and then he shoots the video? Otherwise, how come a journalist gets such a spontaneous video shooting? …”

BJP spokesperson Sandeep Khardekar said: “The minister has sought action because the journalist was the only one present when the ink was being thrown…The moment that man is trying to throw the ink, the journalist was present there to shoot it…how is it possible?” he said.

BJP leaders said they were not pressing for Wakade’s arrest.

The Pimpri-Chinchwad Patrakar Sangh, a body of journalists, expressed strong condemnation against the minister’s directives to the police. “We are going stage a protest in front of Chinchwad police station as well in Pimpri tomorrow (on Monday). The minister’s directive is utterly wrong. Instead of demanding action against the police who failed to protect him, he is demanding action against the journalist,” said Avinash Chilekar, editor of PCBtoday, an online portal. “We had submitted a memorandum to the police not to arrest the journalist. We condemn the minister’s directive,” said Sunil Landge, president of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Patrakar Sangh. The Journalists Association of Maharashtra demanded an apology from Patil. “We demand retraction of threatening statements by Mr Patil and an apology from him,” it said in a statement.

Patil was attacked with black ink on Saturday in Aurangabad district following his remarks on Dr BR Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule, which had triggered controversy. Police have arrested three persons in the ink attack case and invoked attempt to murder charges, among others, against them.



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