A reporter and a cameraman of a news channel were allegedly abducted and assaulted by the younger brother of a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader and his associates on Friday morning in Banaskantha, when the journalists went to allegedly report about a scam being run by the local BJP leader at government-aided ashram schools.
The TV reporter is currently admitted in Palanpur Civil Hospital with multiple injuries, including a fracture in one of his legs.
The incident occurred in Kunvarsi village under Danta Taluka of Banaskantha on Friday around 10 am when Kuldip Parmar, a reporter with TV9 news and his brother Ashok, who is the cameraman, reached an ashram school to do a story, along with a local source.
“Classes were going on so a teacher informed us that we will have to wait for the headmaster to arrive. We agreed and went outside the school to wait for another half an hour,” Ashok said. “When the headmaster arrived, Kuldip was asked to submit his camera and then meet him in the ashram office. We initially protested but then agreed thinking that Kuldip will be able to convince him in the meeting. After Kuldip went inside, a Scorpio car arrived outside the school and (those in the car) started beating us with sticks. I and our local source were asked to sit in the SUV and our phones were confiscated. Later, when Kuldip came out of the office, he too was also assaulted by the group and made to sit in the SUV,” Ashok added.
They were then taken to the farmhouse of local BJP leader Lakshman Barad in nearby Rangpur village of Danta taluka in Banaskantha, he said. The victims have named Vadansinh Barad, younger brother of Lakshman, as the prime accused.
“Vadansinh had come with three-four of his associates and assaulted us,” Ashok said. “He took us to his farmhouse in Rangpur where he kept beating us. Then we were asked to consume alcohol in glasses and a woman was asked to sit near us. He clicked our pictures with the alcohol bottle and the unknown lady and threatened that he would leak the pictures online,” he added. “Vadan then started getting calls from the police as news spread that we had been abducted. He then dropped us on a stretch of road outside Rangpur village. Kuldip’s leg has been fractured due to the assault.”
Speaking of the alleged scam they came to cover, Ashok said, “There are around 30 ashrams run by Lakshman Barad in Banaskantha which receive money from state government regularly. We wanted to expose the plight of students in one of their ashram schools but we were attacked.”.
The police have not yet registered a case in the matter, although they received a complaint. “We have received a complaint from the victims and one of them is currently admitted in Palanpur civil hospital. Due action will be taken as per their complaint details,” Banaskantha Superintendent of Police Gaurav Duggal said.