August 14, 2007

life in journalism: attack by shiv sena goons on outlook's editorial office in bombay

At 3 pm today (as I write this it is 4.45 pm) 8-9 hefty goons from the Shiv Sena attacked the editorial office of Outlook magazine at the 10th floor of Raheja Chambers in Nariman Point in south Bombay. They broke glass panes, fax machine, photocopier and other office stuff. Fortunately, no person was attacked.

These political thugs were protesting a statement in Outlook's current Independence Day special issue calling Bal Thackeray a villain.

I was in Outlook till last month and worked in this very office. Its a small office where only journalists of Outlook, Outlook Money, Outlook Business and Marie Claire (with whom Outlook has a partnership) work. Another office--a much bigger one--where non-editorial personnel sit is near Bandra-Kurla Complex.

Outlook's journalists tend to work from home most days and that was also how it was today. Fortunately. Otherwise the goons might have targetted them. The first thing they did when they barged in the office was to ask for the editor of Outlook and were told that there was no senior person from Outlook around. When I was in Outlook I used to work from office at least three days a week and any visitor for Outlook used to be directed to me if none of my Outlook colleagues were around. So had I been there in Outlook and had I been working from office on this day I could have been targetted.

Its a sad day for journalism in India. My ex-colleagues from Outlook Money and Outlook Business, were present in office, have been shaken by the experience. But it should also make us journalists and particularly editors realise what we do when we look the other way by not covering attacks on NGOs and social activists like Medha Patkar who are also subject to similar violence by right-wing, communist and centrist goons every now and then.

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