Asking supporters to stay away from violence, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and members of his team Tuesday apologised to the media for the scuffle the night before. Hazare even threatened to stop the protest if people continued to misbehave.
A fight broke out between Team Anna supporters and mediapersons around 10 p.m. Monday at Jantar Mantar with protestors alleging that the media was not projecting their movement in the right light. The Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA) condemned the incident and demanded an apology from Team Anna.
"I am pained by what happened Monday night. Our protest rests on non-violence and we don't have to indulge in violence or abuse. There is lot of power in non-violence and if you get involved in violence, it will give the government a chance to divide us," Hazare told the gathering at the venue.
Regretting the attack on media, Hazare told his supporters this morning that he "felt sad" after hearing about the attack on media accusing them of not giving proper coverage to the indefinite fast on corruption issues.
"If you indulge in violence, remember that the government can crush us in two days. They have the strength and laws to do that. In future, if these things happen again, at that moment I will call off this agitation. I don't approve of this. Let media do their work. Don't bother about what they do," he said.
Anna Hazare addresses the media, while activist Arvind Kejriwal looks on.
He said if the media coverage is not the right way, they should not blame media but should introspect and see if there is any problem with the activists that such reports are coming. "It's wrong to blame media. I regret that some people have misbehaved with the media," he said.
Appreciating the media's role in taking their protest to masses, Hazare said: "They have been stationed here for over 18 hours and our fight wouldn't have reached masses had they been not writing or showing it. We need to do our work and let them do whatever they want to."
"I apologise to the media on behalf of people who have misbehaved with them. I appeal to people not to get involved in such acts, else I would have to stop this protest," said the 75-year-old activist.
Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia also tendered apologies, saying that the media had been a big supporter of their fight against corruption since it started 2011.
Kejriwal appealed to the crowd to behave with media with respect.
"The media has become a part of this movement... talk to them with folded hands. If you don't agree with them, go and have a discussion with them but don't indulge in unruly behaviour. It is not their fault (media) but their editors have to decide if they want to support people's movement or corrupt politicians," said Kejriwal.
Hazare appeared happy with the crowd turnout on the first working day after people thronged his fast venue over the weekend, which also saw the indefinite fast of his colleagues — Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai enter into the sixth day.
“The way this wave of protest against corruption is building up in the country, I get a feeling that this government will have to bring a strong Lokpal Bill or else it will have to go,” Hazare said.
From the government side, I&B minister Ambika Soni charged Team Anna with resorting to tactics of blackmail.
“Can any bill be passed in four days? They are resorting to plain blackmail,” she said.
“Do you think it beholds us to write ‘chor’ (thief) outside the PM’s residence? Satellite transmits those images not only in New Delhi or Mumbai, but across the globe,” Soni said.
“I don’t think they enhance the cause of fighting corruption,” she said. The Congress appealed to Team Anna to maintain self-restraint and not get swayed by emotions.