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Scribes protest attack on TV channel, govt vows to tighten law
Mumbai, Nov 21 (IANS)
Published on 21 Nov. 2009 10:59 PM IST
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Taking a strong stand on Friday’s twin attacks on the IBN-Lokmat and IBN-7 television channels in Mumbai and Pune, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said Saturday that the state government will consider legislation making any attacks on the media a non-bailable offence. Speaking to a delegation of senior mediapersons which called on him here, Chavan said that he would examine the legalities of bringing forth such a legislation soon. Chavan also assured that he would convene a meeting of a committee set up to tackle attacks on the media and take measures in a couple of days to strengthen relevant laws. “We shall not spare the perpetrators of the crimes against media however big or powerful they may be, including the instigators,” Chavan said. Later Saturday evening, 17 Shiv Sena activists arrested in connection with Friday’s attacks were remanded to police custody till Monday by a Vikhroli court. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Rajkumar Vartak said police were on the lookout for the prime accused in the case, Sunil Raut. The brother of Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, Sunil Raut was a party candidate from Ghatkopar in last month’s assembly elections and lost. Earlier in the afternoon, Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir strongly condemned the attacks on the media houses and its editor Nikhil Wagle. In a strongly-worded statement, Jamir directed the state government to initiate “exemplary steps to stop such attacks on the media and media persons in the future”. Terming the attacks -- condemned across political lines all over the country -- as shameful and shocking, the governor said this was the third major attack on the Mumbai media in the past 18 months and such incidents do great harm to the image of the state and its people. “What is alarming is the overt and covert political patronage these incidents of vandalism receive from political parties and individual,” the governor noted in an oblique reference to the Shiv Sena owning up and justifying Friday’s attacks. “While it is necessary to punish the perpetrators of violence, it is equally imperative to punish and expose those who incite and justify such uncivilised actions. The media also needs to observe due restraint and remain objective while presenting news and opinions,” Jamir urged. Saturday afternoon, several hundred journalist and non-journalist staff of different media organisations and groups spontaneously converged at the Hutatma (Martyrs) Chowk in south Mumbai to peacefully express solidarity with the staff of the TV channel who were attacked by Shiv Sena activists. A delegation of mediapersons which included top functionaries of the two channels met Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and lodged their protest at the Sena attacks on the media and freedom of press. The delegation included Indian Newspapers Society member Vijay Darda, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP who is also the Chairman of Lokmat Group of Newspapers, his son Deven Darda, CNN-IBN head Rajdeep Sardesai and Nikhil Wagle.

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