Yesterday evening on Friday, February 9, senior journalist Nikhil Wagle found himself subjected to an attack while travelling in his car. His car was reportedly attacked by BJP workers at Khandoji Baba Chowk in Pune while en route to a ‘Nirbhay Bano’ event in the city. The workers reportedly attacked him because of Wagle’s comments directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and LK Advani. Wagle, and two others, including Vishwambhar Chaudhary Aseem Sarode, were reportedly travelling under police protection to the event.
According to Hindustan Times, BJP workers were reportedly staging a protest in response to journalist Nikhil Wagle’s comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and LK Advani after Advani had recently received the Bharat Ratna accolade.
Videos circulating on social media captured the tense moment when BJP activists surrounded Wagle’s vehicle, causing damage to the windscreen and side panes. In a disturbing escalation, some individuals reportedly threw ink on the car, further intensifying the chaotic scene.
The car was surrounded and pelted with eggs and ink, and one person can even be heard saying in one of the videos that “Get Wagle out of the car.” The glass windows and shields of the car were visibly smashed in the videos that have come from the event.
Prior to the event, Wagle himself had reported on February 8 on his X account that Ghate, a BJP member, had stated that he would not allow Wagle to speak at the event.
This is BJP’s threat
Journalist Nikhil Wagle’s speech will not be allowed in Pune – Dheeraj Ghate
Pune: 06- Pune city president of Bharatiya Janata Party Dhiraj Ghate has demanded that the police should deny permission to the speech of journalist Nikhil Wagle, who has…
— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) February 8, 2024
Undeterred by the attack, Wagle later addressed the gathering at the event and exuded resilience and calm, saying. “I only want to say this much to those who attacked us, “Acharya Atre once said, ‘those who want to kill us will die, we will live. I want to change this a bit because I am a nonviolent person, those who attack us, should live and we will also live. I don’t wish their death and, I am telling you this today that I forgive them, I take the name of Babasaheb and forgive them,” he declared. Wagle went on to talk about the rich cultural heritage of Maharashtra, invoking figures like Shivaji Maharaj, Shahuji Maharaj, and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Wagle shared moments from the harrowing attack when one of his companions, Aseem, shielded his head from the attackers and saved him and their fellow activist Shruti who sat in the front seat. He showed undeterred resolve and determination to fight, “Let me tell you something, now, that I am okay. Till we are alive, we will fight you!”
He criticised the RSS, saying that, “This city (Pune) is actually Phule and Savitribai s city. But for the past 100 years, theses attackers have disrupted the history here. In 1942, it was the Sangh who had tried to disrupt the Sabha of Acharya Atre. Nathuram, a so revered amongst Ram Bhakts also came from this very city.”
He further stated, “This is the 7th attack on me, call it superstition or whatever but when I was first attacked in the 1990s even then, the back windscreen of my car was smashed. I don’t understand the importance of that (laughter) but I have survived 7 attacks now. Ask the people who were with me in the car, what did I tell them? It was a very tense situation where people were jumping onto the car from the front, hitting the car with lathis. The police were trying, but no one was listening to them and we saw death in front of our eyes. We are only alive because of our driver, Vaibhav, who managed to take the car out of that situation. Till Nikhil Wagle, and we are alive, we will fight against fascism. You killed Kalburge, Pansare, Lankesh and you can kill us anytime. We don’t carry weapons in our hands, our weapon is love. You can take our life anytime but I have faith after having survived 7 attacks that those who walk on the path of truth, Phule, Ambedkar, Gandhi, people like them – are protecting those who walk the path of truth. I have faith.”
The opposition has condemned the incident and come out in support for Wagle. Working President of the National Congress Party and an MP, Supriya Sule took to X to say that this is not just an attack on one person but an attack on freedom of speech.