POLICE LATHICHARGED mediapersons while covering a clash between two rival groups — Dev Paksha and Acharya Paksha — during the election for temple board of Swaminarayan temple in Junagadh on Sunday evening.
While no one sustained any injuries in the police lathicharge, Junagadh Superintendent of Police Saurabh Singh said that he was ready to register complaints of both the sides and take due action after carrying out an investigation.
Trouble started when a supporter of Dev Paksha allegedly assaulted a swami (sanyasi of Swaminarayan sect) of Acharya Paksha while the latter was giving a soundbyte to mediapersons after the polling ended at 6 pm. The assault triggered a clash between supporters of Dev Paksha and Acharya Paksha.
After the police intervened and arrested the man who had allegedly assaulted the swami, there was a commotion following which police lathicharged on mediapersons.
SP Singh said that as police were taking away the arrested man in a vehicle when some mediapersons sought his comment. “The police inspector prevented mediapersons from taking the arrested man’s soundbyte. Upon that, mediapersons asked the Inspector to give them a soundbyte.
However, Inspectors are not authorised to give soundbytes to media. Only SP and Deputy SPs can. As mediapersons insisted on a soundbyte, the Inspector pushed the camera of a cameraperson. The cameraperson in response pushed the Inspector. Following this, other policemen lathicharged mediapersons,” the SP told The Indian Express.
Mediapersons, on the other hand, alleged that the police did not like the media covering the clash between the two groups of Swaminarayan sect, and that was why they were targeted.
The SP, however, said that the police had not prevented the media in any manner from covering the temple trust’s election.
“Since morning, the media were covering the election, while police were maintaining law and order. It was only at the end of polling that the minor incident took place. We believe the Inspector pushing the camera of a mediaperson was uncalled for. Similarly, the mediaperson pushing the Inspector was also uncalled for,” Singh said.
Till late evening, neither side had lodged a complaint.
Radharaman Swaminarayan Mandir Trust manages and maintains Swaminarayan temple in Junagadh.