Bureau chief of a Gujarat Daily in Valsad was assaulted, along with his wife and one and a half-year-old daughter by a former sarpanch on Saturday night, days after the journalist’s report, critical of the government project undertaken by accused, was published in the newspaper.
According to police, 34-year-old Harshad Ahir, a native of Bhagdawada in Valsad, who is the city bureau chief of Gujarat Mitra – a daily newspaper, was assaulted along with his wife Ketna (30) and the girl child, by a group of three men on Saturday night. The family stays in an apartment in the city area of Valsad, which technically falls under Bhagdawada village panchayat. The prime accused has been identified as Dharmesh Patel, former sarpanch of Bhagdawada village along with his alleged accomplices Jaydev Desai and Sagar Patel.
According to the victim, the accused took offence of a story he had done a few days back for his newspaper regarding the “inefficient” work carried out in the beautification drive of a pond in Bhagdawada.
“Almost five years ago, a beautification drive was carried out at a pond in Bahagdawada where a wall was erected on one side of the pond, chairs and sitting lawn was made along with other items. Dharmesh was the deputy sarpanch back then and he had undertaken the project work. He has also been the sarpanch of the village. However, in the recent rainfall, almost all the beautification was badly damaged so I did a story highlighting the inefficient work. On Saturday night around 10.15 pm, five men including Dharmesh assembled in front of the apartment and asked me to come downstairs. When I refused, two men remained downstairs and Dharmesh along with his two accomplices climbed to the third floor, broke into my house and assaulted me and my wife. They also kicked my infant daughter,” said Harshad.
“He kept shouting at me that why did I publish the negative report in my newspaper and he threatened to kill me as well,” added Harshad.
Acting on the victim’s complaint, police have booked the three accused under Indian penal code sections 323, 452 and 506 for assault, house tresspass and criminal intimidation.
“The journalist was attacked by a former sarpanch and his accomplices. We have arrested one Jaydev and the remaining two are on the run,” said Sunil Joshi, superintendent of police, Valsad.