CPM blamed for attack on newspaper office

via PNS | Palakkad published on February 14, 2009



A
gang attacked the district bureau office of Malayalam daily Mangalam in
Palakkad town on Friday night. Heavy losses were reported in the
attack. Journalists with the paper and Mangalam management alleged that
the attack was carried out by CPI(M) activists. A group of CPI(M)
workers tried to disrupt a demonstration of journalists who were
protesting the attack on Saturday without any provocation.

Watchman
of the building housing the paper’s bureau office said a group of
people had carried out the attack at about 11.30 pm on Friday. The
attackers destroyed computers, furniture, glass-doors, sign board and
other office property, the police said. The police registered a case
against 30 identifiable persons.

The gang also attacked the
adjacent clinical diagnostic centre, Mangalam Scan Centre. An ambulance
of the scan centre came under attack and reports said that the
attackers had tried to set the vehicle ablaze. The watchman, who ran
off the scene when the gang began the attack, said a small group had
come to the office searching for the Mangalam correspondent sometime
before the attack.

The local management of the daily said they
suspected that CPI(M) workers were behind the attack as the newspaper
had carried some reports recently on alleged involvement of some local
Marxist leaders in corruption in a State-owned company in the district.

Sanoop,
district correspondent of Mangalam newspaper, who filed the report, had
claimed that he had received threatening phone calls after it was
published. However, local CPI (M) leaders denied any involvement of
their party in the attack on the newspaper office.

Reports had
said that Sanoop had enraged the CPI(M) local leaders with a question
he posed at a Press meet to the party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan the
other day. The question related to the connection of a local
industrialist with a corruption case pertaining to the State-owned PSU.

Mangalam sources said that CPI(M) district secretary P Unni had
called Sanoop on his mobile phone to ask him about the source of his
report published in the paper at about 8.30 pm on Friday. When Sanoop
refused to reveal the source, Unni inquired with which hand he had been
writing reports, they said.

When Sanoop answered that he too had
been writing with his right hand like most people, the reply was that
they (the CPI(M)) would chop off that hand, they said. It was after
this reported conversation that the group had visited the Mangalam
office searching for Sanoop and the gang had attacked it, they added.

The
members of the Palakkad unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists
(KUWJ) held a demonstration in Palakkad town protesting against the
attack on Mangalam office and the threat to the journalist.

As
the demonstration was passing by the CPI(M) district committee office,
a group of about 15 party workers blocked the scribes and tried to
manhandle them.

There were only five policemen on the spot when
the altercation began but untoward incidents were averted as more
policemen arrived. Journalists and bystanders said there had been no
provocation from the side of the demonstrators and that no slogan
against the CPI(M) was shouted by them.

In Delhi, Chief Minister
VS Achuthanandan said he would inquire about the attack on the paper.
“I will inquire about it. I am coming to know of the matter from you
only,” he told reporters. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who too
was in Delhi, said investigations would be held if an attack had indeed
been carried out. CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said he had
no information about such an incident.

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