Maharashtra: Journalist Detained After BJP Minister Asks Cops to 'Trace' Him for Ink Attack

The Mumbai Press Club has released a statement condemning Chandrakant Patil's words and said Govind Wakade was "merely doing his duty" when he recorded Patil being subjected to an ink attack. It said Wakade was only released after collective clamour.

New Delhi: A television journalist was detained and three people were arrested after ink was thrown at Maharashtra minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Chandrakant Patil on Sunday, December 11, following a comment he made on Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil.

Indian Express had reported that speaking at a public event at Pimpri Chichwad on December 10, Patil said the social reformers did not receive aid from the government when they started schools.

“They started schools by going to the people and begging for money,” he said.

The use of the word “begged” allegedly angered someone in the audience and ink was thrown at Patil.

Patil eventually apologised for using the word but said that it is commonly used in rural areas. He also said that he actually meant crowd funding or what is “similar to present-day concepts of Corporate Social Responsibility or donations.”

By Sunday, December 11, Patil claimed that the attack had been a planned one and zeroed in on the journalist, who has been identified by the Mumbai Press Club as Govind Wakade of News18.

“Some people distorted my statement and attacked me in a cowardly manner. This was a planned attack. I will submit evidence to the district collector,” Patil said, according to PTI.

Patil questioned how Wakade came to be in the venue and in a position to record the incident.

“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,” Express reported Patil as having been heard saying in a video clip.

A case was registered against the three in Chinchwad police station under Indian Penal Code sections 307 (attempt to murder), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

The BJP held protests in some places during the day seeking strict action in the case.

The Pimpri Chichwad police on Sunday evening said three persons had been arrested for the incident, with commissioner Ankush Shinde saying the role of a television journalist was being probed.

“The journalist was summoned to the police station and allowed to go home late Sunday night. He will be summoned again for further inquiry on Monday,” Shinde said.

The Mumbai Press Club has released a statement strongly condemning the minister’s insinuation and said Wakade was “merely doing his duty.” It also noted that it was the “collective voice of journalists” which led to Wakade’s release.

The statement’s headline wrongly mentions ‘arrest’. Wakade was detained.

Express has also reported that the Pimpri-Chinchwad Patrakar Sangh, a body of journalists, has also decried the minister’s apparent direction to the police to take action against Wakade.

Two of the arrested persons are from the Samata Sainik Dal and one us a member of the Vanchit Bhaujan Aghadi.

He said 10 police personnel, including three officers, have been placed under suspension for the incident. Patil on Sunday had also said he had requested the chief minister (Eknath Shinde) and his deputy (Devendra Fadnavis) not to suspend the police personnel who were on duty with him at the time of the incident.

Defending himself, Patil said he had strived hard to get Marathwada University renamed after Babasaheb Ambedkar. Asking if anybody from the group that threw ink on him had even studied the works of Ambedkar, Patil also lashed out at Nationalist Congress Party leaders Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal.

“Why is Ajit Pawar quiet today? Bhujbal has said this (ink throwing) is a natural reaction. In that case, ink should be hurled at him as well. I have read Babasaheb (works). Ask (Karjat Jamkhed NCP MLA) Rohit Pawar to read the works of Babasaheb and then come to counter me,” Patil said.

He said police must be allowed to do its work in connection with the probe into the incident and asked people not to create law and order issues.

(With PTI inputs)