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MRPS activists attack Andhra Jyothi offices

Special Correspondent

Say the daily had published an item insulting their cause and intended to tarnish the image of their leaders

— PHOTO: P.V. SIVAKUMAR

UNCALLED FOR: The smashed glass panes of Andhra Jyothi office at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad on Monday after the attack by MRPS activists.

HYDERABAD: Activists of the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS) on Monday attacked the offices of Andhra Jyothi, a Telugu daily, in the State Capital, Warangal and Visakhapatnam to protest against the publication of report they perceived as insulting to their cause.

A spokesperson for the newspaper said while the attack on its offices in Warangal and Visakhapatnam was not very serious in nature, the Hyderabad offices sustained damage.

Break glass doors

At about 3 p.m., the lathi-wielding agitators, numbering around 25, entered the newspaper office in Jubilee Hills after breaking the windshields of two cars parked outside and the large, plate-glass doors. On being stopped by some executives when they entered the advertisement department, the activists splashed petrol on their feet and the floor. When the petrol was lit by an agitator, the executives stomped it out.

Threatening calls

Andhra Jyothi Managing Director V. Radhakrishna said that his office had been receiving threatening calls since morning. The Police Department, on being informed about the calls, posted some personnel but the attackers struck minutes after the policemen left in the afternoon. He said some powerful forces were behind what he called an ‘unprecedented attack’.

The inquiry would expose them but the newspaper was prepared to face any situation.

Joint protest

Even as the attack was on, MRPS president Manda Krishna, A.P. Backward Classes Welfare Association president R. Krishnaiah and Mala Mahanadu leader Jupudi Prabhakar Rao, in a show of unity, staged a joint protest near Dr. Ambedkar’s statue on the Tank Bund.

They held that the daily had published the item with the specific intent of tarnishing the image of leaders who were crusading for the uplift of the weaker sections for decades. Referring to another news item published by the daily two days ago, they said all this was a design to promote the interests of film star Chiranjeevi who planned to float a political party without any record whatsoever of working for the underprivileged.

Apology sought

Mr. Krishna said the SCs, STs and the BCs felt hurt over the report and wanted an unconditional apology from the newspaper’s management. Else, the paper would have to face their wrath, he warned.

Meanwhile, the Jubilee Hills police picked up two persons believed to have participated in the attack.

Attack condemned

Political parties and various organisations have condemned the attack on the offices of the Telugu daily Andhra Jyothi in Hyderabad and other places, describing it as an attack on the freedom of the press.

In a statement, Information and Public Relations and Tourism Minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy said several ways were open to the aggrieved parties to proceed against the newspaper publishing objectionable articles. The press enjoyed Constitutional protection and the State government would take all steps to ensure freedom of press.

K. Yerran Naidu, MP and TDP Polit Bureau member, said if a particular article had hurt the sentiments of a section of people, they could use democratic ways of protesting. These include complaining to the editor, the Press Council, Editors Guild and taking legal action.

CPI leaders S. Sudhakar Reddy and K. Narayana said it was normal for newspapers to write critically on political parties and other organisations and their leaders. But those aggrieved should use civilised ways of protest. CPI (M) also condemned the attack. Jayaprakash Narayan of Lok Satta Party called the action “unwarranted”. A. P. Union of Working Journalists, AP Press Photographers Association and Journalists Association of Andhra Pradesh called it as an attack on freedom of the press.

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