A Congress-backed Malayalam television channel on Thursday broadcast a report on alleged “immoral activities” at a cafe in Kozhikode, following which BJP workers stor-med the premises and smashed glass and furniture. The restaurant, called Downtown, was shut at the time, and no customers were hurt. TV cameras were waiting at the spot and filmed the attack, police said.
The video of the vandalism was tweeted by Congress media department head Ajay Maken, who posted a link to YouTube with the comment, “Watch how BJP supporters vandalise a coffee shop in Kerala for alleged immoral activities. #Shame”. Told that it was the Congress’s own Jaihind TV that had aired the report that instigated the attack, Maken said, “If anything has been shown on a TV channel, does that give the BJP the licence to indulge in moral policing?”
His tweet, Maken said, was “on the basis of what the BJP supporters have done. It (the video) clearly shows how they have vandalised a coffee shop”.
At 9 am on Thursday, Jaihind TV aired an “exclusive” report alleging that some coffeeshops and restaurants in Kozhikode had become centres of “immoral activities” which the police were ignoring. The report showed pictures of Downtown, and alleged that the parking area of the cafe was being “misused” by young men and women.
Jaihind TV was launched by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in August 2007. Its president is V M Sudheeran, chief of the Kerala Congress, and its managing director is M M Hassan, a state Congress vice-president.
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The group was led by Prakash Babu, state general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP. TV cameramen who were already present at the restaurant, filmed the attack. Asked if they knew about the attack in advance, Jaihind TV reporter Danithlal S Nambair said cameras of his channel had reached the spot along with those of other channels only after being informed by the police. Kozhikode City Police Circle Inspector Moosa Vallickadan, who is probing the attack, however, said TV cameras were ready at the spot when the Yuva Morcha men arrived.
Hassan declined to comment, saying Chief Editor K P Mohanan would react. Mohanan said Executive Editor J S Indukumar would respond.
Indukumar said, “We are not responsible for the attack. We have only reported… We have some other visuals to substantiate immoral activity, which are being held back.” He said cameras of several channels were present when the Yuva Morcha men targeted the hotel.
Basil Moosa, promoter of Downtown, which has been open for nine months now, said: “The parking area is an open space, which can be clearly seen from the road. There are several houses and apartments in the vicinity. Nobody can engage in an immoral activity on our premises. Besides, there are CCTV cameras. We suspect someone might have morphed the visuals or arranged some visuals to paint the restaurant in poor light,” Moosa said. He said the damage would cost Rs 4 lakh to repair. BJP Kozhikode district president P Raghunath alleged on Friday that when Prakash Babu went to the restaurant to inquire about the allegations, the restaurant’s staff attacked the Yuva Morcha workers, who then reacted.
(With ENS, Delhi)