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India 30 August 2004

Three more journalists on daily Mahanagar physically attacked

(JPEG) Militants of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena Party attacked three journalists of the Marathi-language daily Mahanagar in Malvan, Maharashtra State in the west of the country on 28 August. The editor Nikhil Wagle (photo) and two journalists Yuvraj Mohite and Pramod Nirgudkar were beaten and sprayed with petrol by a crowd of rioters in the street. The editor Nikhil Wagle accused Narayan Rane, local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Maharashtra chief minister of being behind the attacks, during a demonstration against the violence. Wagle denied all involvement. Reporters Without Borders condemned these latest attacks on journalists working for Mahanagar, which has a secular editorial line.


Newspaper editor stabbed by Muslim fundamentalist

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) said today it was deeply shocked by the attempted murder late yesterday in Mumbai of Sajid Rashid, the editor of the Hindi-language edition of the daily Mahanagar. Rashid was stabbed twice in the back.

The organisation called on the Maharashtra state authorities to take all necessary measures to identify and arrest those responsible for the attack and to protect the staff of Mahanagar, which was already the target of violence two months ago.

If it is confirmed that Rashid was targeted because he had defended free expression, the attack poses a disturbing threat to all independent news media in Mumbai, Reporters Without Borders added.

(JPEG) Rashid was attacked by two men who approached him in the evening not far from the newspaper’s offices. Nikhil Wagle, the editor of Mahanagar’s Maratha-language edition, said one of the men asked Rashid if he was "the one who insulted the Koran" and the other then stabbed him.

Rashid, also vice-president of the movement Muslims for Secular Democracy, wrote about the issue of free expression in Islam in June, causing anger in Muslim fundamentalist circles in Mumbai, and since then he has been receiving anonymous threats. He filed a complaint but the police did not investigate. It was only after yesterday’s attack that the police decided to give him protection.

Mahanagar has been the target of violence by both Hindu nationalists and Muslim fundamentalists, with the former accusing the newspaper of being "pro-Muslim and "anti-nationalist, and the latter accusing it of blaspheming against Islam.

Three of its journalists were physically attacked when the newspaper’s offices were stormed by members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on 29 June, but the police made no arrests. There have been five other violent attacks on the newspaper since it was founded but no one has ever been brought to trial.

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