Raipur: Four BJP functionaries, including the Raipur district unit chief, were arrested for allegedly thrashing a local journalist at the party office here, police said on Sunday.
BJP’s Raipur district president Rajeev Agrawal and three local office-bearers — Vijay Vyas, Utkarsh Trivedi and Deena Dongre — were arrested late Saturday night based on the First Information Report (FIR) lodged by journalist Suman Pandey, a local police official told PTI.
The four, who were booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention), were later released on a bail bond from the police station, he said.
Peeved over the incident, local journalists sat on an indefinite protest in front of the Raipur Press Club in Motibagh area here on Sunday, demanding expulsion of the accused from the BJP.
Pandey, who works with a local website, in his complaint alleged that he was thrashed on Saturday when he was recording a video of a scuffle among BJP leaders during the party’s district-level meeting to review their defeat in the recent Chhattisgarh Assembly polls.
The journalist sustained minor head injuries in the incident, he said.
After Pandey was beaten, local journalists had staged a sit-in protest front of the BJP office here till the wee hours of Sunday, demanding expulsion of the accused party functionaries.
State BJP president Dharamlal Kaushik and former minister Brijmohan Agrawal arrived at the party office to meet the protesting journalists around 2.30 am.
“They refused to take any immediate action against the accused BJP leaders and said they will first demand an explanation from them following which action will be taken,” Raipur Press Club vice president Prafull Thakur said.
“We are now sitting on an indefinite protest in front of the press club till our demand to expel the accused leaders is fulfilled,” Thakur added.
State BJP spokesperson Sacchidanand Upasane, who was also present at the party meeting, on Saturday said his party men had apologised to Pandey.
“The closed door district-level meeting was held to review the defeat in the recent Assembly elections. Media persons were asked to leave the meeting room after taking initial footage. Party leaders and workers were also asked to keep their mobile phones switched off,” he said.
On finding a man recording the video of meeting, he was told to stop it and asked to delete the footage. After he introduced himself as a journalist, party leaders said he should delete the video, Upasane said.
“A minor scuffle broke out between the journalist and party leaders over the issue, following which I asked the journalist to sit there for a while and later told him to go outside,” Upasane said.
Later, the party leaders apologised to journalists protesting at the venue, he said, adding that BJP’s state president would look into the incident.