After a statewide outcry, state agriculture minister Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, also senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday offered to tender an apology for the incident where a scribe was thrashed by his escort.
"I have all the respect for the general public and for the journalists in particular as I have myself edited a daily newspaper. And, if at all, the sensitivities of them are hurt, I am willing to tender my apology for the alleged act committed and as reported," reads the statement issued by the minister.
A senior editor with local daily Greater Kashmir, Javaid Malik was thrashed by the escort of the minister after allegedly passing lewd remarks at his wife. The scribe accused the minister of ordering his personnel to thrash and arrest him.
However, the minister refuted issuing any orders against the journalist.
"The fact is that a red car swivelled and slam-stopped in front of my vehicle and the driver of the vehicle rushed towards my car and tried to open the window of my vehicle. He was stopped by the security guards and taken to the Chanapora police station. I strongly deny my involvement in the alleged episode and have no objection if the journalist so desires to initiate inquiry and to ascertain facts," said Hanjura.
The government clarified that the security guards do not carry orders from any minister or VIP whom they escort, they follow their own protocol. "We uphold the dignity and honour of our people and it has never been our style to function as viceroys or dictators," he added.
The apology offer comes after the media fraternity hit the streets earlier in the day. Holding placards with slogans like 'Solidarity with Javaid Malik', 'End VIP culture' and 'CM must break his silence', the protesting journalists demanded an action against the accused and resignation of the minister. The protesters marched the streets at Lal Chowk and held a sit-in.
Several political parties, including separatist Hurriyat and Jamaat-e-Islami, condemned the attack on the journalist.