Lawyers Friday clashed with mediapersons at a Bangalore court which was hearing the CBIs request for the custody of former Karnataka minister G Janardhan Reddy in an illegal mining case. Several people on both sides were injured and media vans damaged.
The clashes started soon after Reddy was taken away from the court when the lawyers refused to let the mediapersons inside the compound to interview advocates involved with Reddys case. The lawyers threw stones; the journalists retaliated but,outnumbered,were chased into the Government Arts and Science College next door and several were beaten up.
When the police intervened,the lawyers on the upper floors of the court threw down chairs and benches on them,injuring several,including Deputy Commissioner of Police G Ramesh,who was in charge of security at the court. Some TV channels later reported that a policeman named Chandrappa had died of injuries but Bangalore Police chief Jyothi Prakash Mirji refuted the claim.
Though the immediate spark to Fridays violence was the lawyers refusal to let the journalists enter the court,tension between the two sides had been simmering since January,when the media strongly criticised the lawyers snap strike in Bangalore over the beating of one of them by the police for a traffic violation. In fact,even during that strike,which had crippled traffic,leaving even ambulances stranded,lawyers had attacked journalists and police outside a magistrates court. The medias severe criticism of the attacks further strained the relations,so much so that in the past few weeks,lawyers had been warning individual journalists visiting the city and the magistrates court of retaliation.
Dont tell anybody you are from the media if they ask you. Just tell them you are a party in a case. Several young lawyers are waiting for an opportunity to vent their anger against the media for your coverage of our protests, a young lawyer warned this correspondent about two weeks ago outside the Lokayukta court hearing a case against former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.
And a week ago,a reporter and a cameraperson for Suvarna News channel were beaten up – for no reason,they alleged – by a group of lawyers at the city court.
Meanwhile,Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda ordered a judicial probe into Fridays clashes. After gathering information from various quarters and discussing the issue with Home Minister R Ashok,the government has decided to initiate a judicial probe into the shameful and dastardly act of a section of lawyers, Gowda said.
The chief minister,however,added that his government would help ease the tension between mediapersons and lawyers rather than exacerbate it with arrests.