New Delhi: A group of 20-25 Shiv Sena activists attacked journalists and damaged property at the offices of IBN Lokmat and IBN7, the Marathi and Hindi news channels of the IBN Network, in north-east Mumbai’s Vikhroli on Friday. Several IBN Network journalists and other employees were beaten up even as two Shiv Sena leaders refused to apologise for the attacks.
CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who has promised to look into the matter. Here are excerpts from the exclusive chat.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Be honest. Will any action be taken against the ringleaders of this attack?
Ashok Chavan: Not only will action be taken, but action has already been taken. Around seven people have been arrested in Mumbai. More people are likely to be arrested. In Pune also you have seen yourself that people have been arrested. The police have swung into action. Let me assure the media - whether print media or the electronic media - and even the general people of Maharashtra that we are not here only for lip service or only to be spectators to what's happening.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has gone on record to say that this was a spontaneous reaction by the Shiv Sainiks because the IBN Network had been critical of Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's stand on Sachin Tendulkar and that the Shiv Sena would not tolerate any criticism. This is virtually a statement endorsing the attack.
Ashok Chavan: I am shocked at the way Sanjay Raut has made this statement, considering he himself is a journalist, a responsible person and a member of Parliament. It's highly wrong on his part to make such a remark.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mumbai is supposed to be the commercial capital of India. When these images play across the world today, what will be the image of Mumbai then?
Ashok Chavan: This has always been the style of the Shiv Sena, the MNS and such people. Have seen Congressmen or any other political party in Maharashtra behave in this way? I would request the media to please in future resist from giving publicity to such parties who don't believe in the democratic values of the country.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Please tell me in which other city has this party grown the way it has in Mumbai? Isn't that partly because the administration is seen to be soft on them? We haven't seen a Shiv Sena like movement in most other states. The Shiv Sena cannot do in other states what they do in Mumbai. Why? Because they feel the administration is soft on them...
Ashok Chavan: Let me assure you that the government will not be soft on not only the Shiv Sena but also on any political party or individual who will create problems, who will not go by the law of the country or the law of the state. There is no exception to the law.
Rajdeep Sardesai: This is a historic opportunity for you. The people of Maharashtra have voted you in. Are you confident that you will be able to take the government machinery along - whether it is Shiv Sena or any other party which creates a ruckus?
Ashok Chavan: Let me assure you we have a political will. I have made myself amply clear in a number of statements which I have made. Nobody - not the Shiv Sena or the MNS - is above the law. The law is equal for everybody.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you have the courage to act against Sanjay Raut? Under the Indian Penal Code if Sanjay Raut is found to be someone who has encouraged these attacks, will you act against him?
Ashok Chavan: I am not here to support Sanjay Raut. If his statements have instigated this or if he is the man behind the entire plan, then why should the government resist from doing anything against him? The police will look into that.