In a definite stand against attacks on the media, all 17 Shiv Sainiks arrested for Friday’s attack on a television news channel’s offices have been charged with attempted murder.
The police have also named Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s younger brother Sunil as the main instigator of the attacks — and listed him as absconding.
“Raut is the man who instigated the mob to vandalise the office premises of the channel. He is absconding,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajkumar Vartak.
Maharashtra Governor SC Jamir on Saturday wrote to the state government demanding strict action against the perpetrators of the attack.
Jamir’s letter said the “overt and covert political patronage” to such acts of vandalism was “alarming” and caused harm to the image of Maharashtra.
With a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the attempted murder charge is far more stringent than the usual ones of rioting, assault and vandalism, which carry only two years.
The foundation for the charge, said the police, is the fact that the Sainiks went to the offices armed with weapons such as baseball bats, iron pipes and cricket stumps. They assaulted employees and smashed furniture at IBN Lokmat’s Mumbai and Pune offices, protesting a campaign they claim constituted a ‘verbal attack’ against Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
Sena defends workers
The Shiv Sena remained defiant on Saturday, blaming the media for Friday’s attack.
“This was not a planned attack. This was an attack on the depraved mentality of a few journalists,” said an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna.