Members of a crew working with documentary filmmaker Rakesh Sharma were allegedly manhandled by a mob after the Dharma Raksha Manch’s Sankalp Sabha concluded on Somaiya Ground on Thursday.
The crew members have sent a written complaint to Commissioner of Police Hasan Gafoor. The complaint states that when the crew was taking audience’s reactions, around 150 people surrounded them and identified themselves as members of Bajrang Dal and Dharma Raksha Manch.
Richa Hushing, an independent filmmaker who was part of the crew, said: “We were interviewing a man and some onlookers disagreed with him. They got into an argument while we continued shooting.”
The onlookers objected to them shooting the argument and insisted that the footage be erased. “They even tore the cameraperson’s shirt. A few constables were around but they didn’t escort us to a safe place,” she said.
The complaint states that cameraman Rrivu Laha was manhandled and his camera and tape snatched. One of the event coordinators demanded that the footage be erased. A police team arrived and confiscated the tape after the mob insisted, the complaint said.
Sharma wants the police to return the tape because it has footage of previous shoots too. “This is a violation of my right to free speech,” said Sharma.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said it was not involved in the incident. “We don’t even know about this incident,” said VHP General Secretary Venkatesh Abdeo, also the organiser of the Sabha. “He (Sharma) should have complained to our office bearers if such a thing happened.”
A Bajrang Dal member, requesting anonymity, said: “They were asking inappropriate questions about Hindu saints and the religion and that enraged some people. But our boys didn’t manhandle them.”
“We are conducting an inquiry into it,” said Sadanand Date, additional commissioner of police.