Chennai -- A Tamil television channel that was recently under fire for airing a debate on the relevance of the 'mangalsutra' -- a neckpiece worn by millions of women in India as an auspicious symbol of marriage -- was attacked allegedly by some members of a fringe far right group who hurled crude bombs at the office in the early hours today, police said. No one was injured in the attack.
Four motorcycle-borne youths hurled two crude bombs packed in tiffin boxes, police said. No one has been detained in this connection and police were examining various clues.
According to agency reports, journalists in the Puthiya Thalaimurai channel said no major damage to property was reported. They said the incident had been caught on CCTV camera. The incident came close on the heels of the channel removing the controversial show about the 'thaali' (the Tamil word for mangalsutra) when a fringe outfit, Hindu Munnani, opposed it and staged a protest during which some equipment was damaged and a video journalist allegedly attacked.
Media men and women protest against attack on Puthiya Thalaimurai channel office in chennai— K V Lakshmana (@kvlakshman) March 12, 2015
JUST IN:Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai attacked,Hindu Ilaignar Sena worker claims responsibility for the same pic.twitter.com/clVDb7F8ha— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) March 12, 2015
Media outfits condemned today's attack. "Some anti-social elements attacked us to stop us airing from a certain program, we condemn this," said New Generation Media Corporation CEO, Shyam Kumar.
The Tamil news channel had upset certain groups over an episode of talk show Urakka Sollungal that debated the relevance of the 'thaali' as a symbol of fidelity especially in cases where husbands torture or abandon their wives. The telecast of this episode was cancelled.
An employee of the channel told HuffPost India "the show has been cancelled because of pressure from the public."
Members of the Hindu Makkal Katchi (Hindu People's Party), protested outside the channel's office in Guindy, Chennai. A day later, another protest was held by religious and cultural organisation, Hindu Munnani, which turned violent, with some protesters reportedly attacking a cameraperson.
Today, senior journalist and political analyst GnSankaran said the state government has failed to protect the freedom of expression in Tamil Nadu. Sankaran, who was reacting to the attack on the office of Tamil news channel 'Puthiya Thalaimurai', also called for the arrest of the miscreants responsible for the untoward incident.
"The crude bomb attack on the TV channel only shows how indifferent the state government and the police have been in protecting the media and freedom of expression in Tamil Nadu," Sankaran told ANI.
Two tiffin box bombs hurled at Tamil Puthiya Thalaimurai office at 3am. Channel had got 3600+ threatening calls over a show on Mangalsutra— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) March 12, 2015
"Few days ago, when the agitators were outside the TV office and attacked the cameraman and equipment, the police were onlookers and were watching silently. This emboldens the anti-social elements to do anything and get away with it because they could attack before the very eyes of the police. So now, when nobody is around they can creep in, silently throw a bomb and escape," he added.
Freedom of expression has come under severe attack in the recent months. The government banned a documentary by a BBC filmmaker on the victim of the Delhi gangrape, leading to mass outrage on social platforms.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the documentary would not be aired in India and accused its makers of violating "permission conditions" by not showing the complete unedited footage to jail officials. He said he would investigate how a film crew managed to interview a death row convict who expressed no remorse for his part in the fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi in 2012, an attack that sparked outrage, Reuters reported.
Leslee Udwin's 'India's Daughter' featured conversations with Mukesh Singh and fellow convicts who raped and tortured a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in December 2012.