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Police arrests journos, lets 'gundas' off the hook

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MUMBAI: At a time when rival television channels will stop at nothing to pip each other at the ratings’ post, here comes a heart-warming instance of foes coming together for a just cause.

On 2 December, around 11.45pm, high drama unfolded outside the Maduravoyal police station in Chennai when over 200 media persons – including journalists and technicians from Captain TV (Tamil news channel) and its competitor channels, Sun TV and Pudhiya Thalamuria – gathered outside Maduravoyal police station to protest the attack on crew members of Captain TV by a group of people the same evening.

The ‘Raasta Roko’ took a turn for the worse when instead of registering a complaint against the attackers, the police officials ended up arresting the protesters, who were released yesterday morning.

Captain TV distribution manager Arun Kumar recalled the incident saying: “It all started when my crew was going to cover an event in the Anna Nagar West area and stopped at the nearby petrol pump to fill diesel around 7 in the morning. Thomson, a van driver, who came in later, picked up an argument with Suresh, driver of the bus transporting my crew, claiming that the latter had jumped queue and subsequently thrashed him.”

“Later in the evening, Thomson saw my crew members and he came in with a bunch of 20-30 people and beat them very hard.” There were eight crew members including two drivers, two cameramen, two camera-stunts and two reporters including a lady reporter named N Lavanya; according to Kumar.

Minutes after the thrashing, the crew members, along with some Captain TV employees, went to the Maduravoyal police station to file a case against these local gundas. However, the police station had a different agenda. “Police inspector Anand Babu refused to take the complaint. The reason being, the van driver who had beaten up the crew is the relative of a local politician from the ruling party. The entire police team is in their favour and not us. It’s simple: these local gundas bribe them and in return, the policemen protect them,” rues Kumar.

As word spread about the police officials’ apathy, an infuriated media, including journalists from Captain TV’s rival channels, Sun TV and Pudhiya Thalamuria, as well as print journalists and members of the press club joined the protest. Other media houses such as Kalaignar TV, Public Television, Telegraph, Television Polymer, Times Now Television, New York Times, CNN, The Hindu, The Times of India and journalists from various magazines joined the protest.

Notwithstanding all this fighting and protesting, the police officials arrested the entire group of protesters. “They arrested us – all 200 plus media people instead of arresting those local gundas. But today, the protest is going on in every district of Tamil Nadu,” says Kumar.

The arrested persons were taken and kept throughout the night in K.V.T Mahal in Koyambedu and community hall in Aminjikarai in Chennai.

At the time of writing this article, the policemen had still not filed any case against the attackers.

“They are not filing the case against the attackers, rather they are filing cases against my people. But, we have told them to charge for attempt to murder and until then, we won’t sign any FIR. We are firm on this,” says a determined Kumar.

Today, the news channel will be going to the commissioner to discuss the matter.

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