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Correspondent recalls how the media came in line of mob fury in Panchkula

The media was under direct attack from Dera Sacha Sauda followers from the very beginning. They did not like the fact that instead of reporting ‘good deeds’ done by their ‘pitaji’, what was rigorously being reported was the rape case.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2017 18:41 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Ram Rahim,Ram Rahim rape verdict,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Things took an ugly turn, minutes after dera chief was convicted. Within minutes, over two lakh followers turned into an agitated mob and the media was their first target.(HtT Photo)

As he took cover in the bushes, Ravi Kumar, Hindustan Times photojournalist saw an agitated dera follower pouring kerosene on a cloth wrapped around a stick and burning his friend’s vehicle. Within seconds, he was joined by others and over 10 vehicles were up in flames.

The media was under direct attack from Dera Sacha Sauda followers from the very beginning. They did not like the fact that instead of reporting ‘good deeds’ done by their ‘pitaji’, what was rigorously being reported was the rape case.

Things took an ugly turn, minutes after dera chief was convicted. Within minutes, over two lakh followers turned into an agitated mob and the media was their first target.

4 OB vans gutted

At least four outstation broadcasting (OB) vans of media houses – NDTV, Aaj Tak, Times Now and local news channel – were damaged and burnt. Apart from this, at least 38 media personnel have registered a complaint in Secctor 5 Police station, Panchkula regarding loss of equipments and vehicles.

Ravi Kumar, HT photographer, said, “I was stationed at Hafed Chowk and was capturing the mob burning OB vans. As police moved ahead to retaliate, we joined them. In no time, the mob started pelting stones and they started running towards us, but when we looked back for police, they were nowhere.”

He said that as the mob surrounded them from three sides, he ran towards barricades, got hurt and took cover inside the bushes. “As I took cover and hid my camera, a tall man came. He tore a cloth, wrapped it around the stick, poured kerosene on it and lit it. He told us to remain silent if we want to be alive,” said Ravi. Within a minute, he burnt my colleague Kamleshwar Singh’s bike.”

He was joined by others who burnt at least 10 vehicles on that road.

HT reporter Gagandeep Jassowal and lensman Keshav Singh, were chased by mob for fifteen minutes until they found a shelter inside a house. “We crossed the wall, lied on the floor for at least ten minutes, as the mob kept on searching for us. When we moved out and walked ahead, we were confronted by another set of dera followers. This hide-and-seek continued for at least an hour,” said Gagandeep.

“I was sitting inside the OB van, when followers started attacking the van. I saw them hitting a man sitting inside the NDTV’s van and I jumped from the vehicle to save my life. Had I waited for another few minutes, I would have been their target,” said an engineer sitting inside OB van of Aaj Tak.

A reporter of Dainik Savera TV was attacked by 4-5 dera followers whom he had interviewed before the verdict. “They pushed me and as I fell, they pelted stones on me. I was lucky that police came for my protection,” said Amit Sethi.It was a run for life for Jagmohan Singh, a photojournalist with Dainik Savera Times. “They burnt my bike, broke my lens and flash. After the violence broke out, we ran towards Hafed building and took a shelter inside it. Along with us, police also ran and took cover. The dera followers, including an old man, two women and youth, started pelting stones at us. We asked police to fire, but they did not have orders. It was only after they opened fire in the air, that the mob dispersed.”

A car of Mint reporter was burnt, because of which female journalist lost all her important documents.

On top of it, she had to struggle to register an FIR at Sector-5 police station.

Policemen thrashed HT photojournalist, took away camera

Chandigarh: When he shot the police in action, Haryana Police thrashed Sant Arora, HT photographer with lathis and took away his camera.

Narrating the horrifying tale of the incident, Sant Arora said, “I took shield at the petrol pump of Sector 3 when mob turned violent. From one side, the mob was pelting stones and from the other side police was firing. I saw one man trying to flee in a speeding car. But his car was stopped, and he was pulled out of the car and was hit on the head. I shot all this in my camera.”

“Minutes later a policeman entered the petrol pump and he was followed by 4-5 of them. They asked about my identity and of those sitting inside. I told them that I am from media and others are employees of the pump. However, they moved ahead and searched the adjoining room, where some dera followers were hiding.”

“They hit all of them and blamed me of supporting the followers. When they got to know that I have shot their action. They started hitting me with lathis and went away with my camera.”

The police also destroyed the CCTV camera and footage installed inside the petrol pump.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 10:27 IST