Updated: July 9, 2019 3:02:01 am
A bureau chief of a Gujarati daily in Valsad, his wife and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, were allegedly assaulted by a former sarpanch and his two accomplices on Saturday night, days after the journalist’s report, critical of a government project undertaken by the accused, was published in the newspaper.
One person has been arrested in this connection, police said.
Harshad Ahir (34), city bureau chief of Gujarat Mitra, his wife Ketna (30) and their child stay in an apartment at Bhagdawada in Valsad. The prime accused have been identified as Dharmesh Patel, former sarpanch of Bhagdawada village in Valsad, along with his accomplices Jaydev Desai and Sagar Patel.
“The journalist was attacked by a former sarpanch and his accomplices. We have arrested Jaydev, while the other two are on the run,” said Sunil Joshi, superintendent of police, Valsad.
According to the victim, the accused took offence to a story he had done a few days ago in his newspaper regarding “inefficient” work carried out in a pond redevelopment project in Bhagdawada.
“Almost five years ago, as part of a beautification drive, a wall was erected on one side of the pond. Besides, chairs were provided and a lawn was also built. Dharmesh was the deputy sarpanch then and he was in charge of the project. He has also been the sarpanch of the village. However, in the recent rain, almost all the items were badly damaged. So, I did a story where I highlighted it. On Saturday around 10.15 pm, five men, including Dharmesh, assembled in front of my apartment and asked me to come downstairs. When I refused, Dharmesh, Jaydev and Sagar came upstairs and broke into my apartment. They assaulted me and my wife and also kicked my infant daughter,” said Harshad.
“He kept shouting at me over the story and also threatened to kill me,” Harshad added.
Acting on the victim’s complaint, police have booked the three accused under the Indian Penal Code sections 323, 452 and 506 for assault, tresspassing and criminal intimidation.
Condemning the alleged attack, over 60 journalists in Valsad handed over a memorandum to the district collector, C R Kharsan, and District Superintendent of Police, Sunil Joshi, demanding strict action against the accused.
Sources in Valsad media said that Ahir’s photo story about the pond redevelopment project “had not blamed anybody for the damage”, but had pointed at possible corruption in the
Sources said that Dharmesh was also the BJP president of Valsad Taluka till 2016. “Dharmesh was unhappy with the photo story published in the newspaper, and the reporter also stays in the same village. To show his power in the area, Dharmesh, along with Jaydev and Sagar, attacked Ahir,” people known to Dharmesh, said on condition of anonymity.
Jaydev and Sagar both work in private companies.
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