10 arrested after attack against senior Marathi journalist

The police have arrested 10 people after journalist Nikhil Wagle’s car was attacked in Pune last week. However, Wagle himself was subjected to a new FIR filed against him after the attack for violating a police notice

In Pune, a car taking Maharashtra journalist Nikhil Wagle, and activist Vishwambhar Choudhary, and human rights lawyer Asim Sarode was brutally attacked on February 9 by people who are believed to be workers in the BJP. The three were en route to a Nirbhay Bano rally in Pune. 

After the attack, a second FIR was filed against Wagle at the Parvati police station in Pune where he and several others, which includes organisers of the Nirbhay Bano event in Pune, are now subjects of an FIR. The FIR is based on charges for violation of a police notice. The list of named people in the FIR has members of various political parties, such as Dhiraj Ghate, the Pune unit chief of the BJP along with 250 party members, Arvind Shinde, the Congress party city chief, Prashant Jagtap representing the Sharad Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party, and Sanjay More from Shiv Sena. Furthermore, the social media site X was also trending with people calling for his arrest. 

Meanwhile, on Saturday, ten members of the BJP were arrested in Pune in connection with the assault on senior journalist Nikhil Wagle. The arrested people have been identified as Deepak Pote, Ganesh Ghosh, Ganesh Sherla, Raghvendra Mankar, Swapnil Naik, Pratik Desarda, Dushyant Mohol, Datta Sagre, Girish Mankar, and Rahul Paygude. Several charges have been filed against them which include sections of the Indian Penal Code related to rioting and voluntarily causing harm.

Prior to the attack, BJP Pune’s president Dheeraj Ghate reportedly commented on the incident on X, associating Wagle with ‘naxalism’. There is thus far no news or reports of Ghate being arrested as of yet. 

Meanwhile, the Indian Express has reported that Nikhil Wagle’s team, with Vishwambhar Choudhary and Asim Sarode, has called for the arrest of Dheeraj Ghate and other party figures purportedly after the attack on Wagle. 

On February 11, Sunil Deodhar from the BJP called for the arrest of journalist Nikhil Wagle who according to him has made “objectionable” remarks directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.

According to reports, Deodhar has stated that he has lodged a formal complaint with the Pune police on February 8 against Nikhil Wagle, which he has done because of “offensive tweet” by Wagle posted on February 6. The FIR, filed at Vishrambaug police station, books Wagle for charges against his remarks under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 500 (defamation) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief). 

According to the report, Pune Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar stated that an investigation into the matter is currently ongoing. Furthermore, a senior police official has stated to the newspaper that there are no immediate plans to arrest Wagle in connection with the case and the decision to arrest him will only be made after the investigation is complete. 

Wagle’s car was brutally attacked on February 9 in Pune with scores of people hitting his car with hockey sticks, stone, and iron rods resulting in smashed windows of the car and injured passenger. Wagle was informed about a tense atmosphere after he made a tweet by the police.

The police have issued a public statement saying that they had asked Wagle not to leave for the event until all the protestors were detained. However, the police has stated, that due to traffic the detaining people began to take time, but Wagle did not take note and left for the event and even ‘changed routes.’ However the police has stated that they had plainclothes police personnel following him for his safety. About the attacked they have stated that, “When the car was attacked, the plainclothes policemen standing between agitators and Wagle’s car tried to stop the attack, but heavy traffic and bystanders ruled out the possibility of using force of evacuating him and his car immediately.”

Speaking to Sabrang India after the incident, Nikhil Wagle narrated about how the events took place, “The fact that we survived was a chamatkaar (miracle). We were about to die, but got saved. This was a mob lynching. We were surrounded in all directions and chased. I’ve been attacked even before this, but this was the worst.” Further, he says that the attack took place in police presence, “The police came with us, but the police did not protect us.”

“The police stopped us at Asim Sarode’s house – this was a house arrest. They kept telling us to stop for half an hour, ten minutes more. But finally I decided to leave and I told the police I have committed to the people.” He further goes on to say that the stone-pelting started soon after they took to the road.

Meanwhile a BJP leader from Pune has reportedly stated that the party workers agitated against Wagle because of his own statements. According to the Indian Express, BJP spokesperson Sandeep Khardekar has said that, “Both actions are condemnable. The attack on Wagle’s car is condemnable, and his disparaging remarks against PM Modi and LK Advani are even more condemnable. Our party workers would not have done what they did if they were not instigated by Wagle’s objectionable comment. Wagle stooped very low but no one took him to task. Why are people silent on his derogatory comment?”


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