Mob attacks office of an Indian TV news network
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Mob attacks office of an Indian TV news network

Suspected Hindu hard-liners on Friday ransacked the offices of an Indian television news channel in Mumbai, using iron rods and baseball bats to beat employees and smash furniture.

It was not immediately clear why the office of IBN Lokmat, a television channel that broadcasts in the local Marathi language, was targeted, but witnesses said the attackers claimed to belong to the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena political party.

Sandeep Chavan, a journalist with IBN Lokmat, said the attackers were looking for Nikhil Wagle, the editor-in-chief of the channel, according to the English-language web site of CNN-IBN, an IBN Lokmat affiliate.

Representatives of Shiv Sena could not be reached for comment.

Television footage showed more than a dozen men in a melee among broken glass and smashed up furniture. Several of them were clearly injured.

Hitesh Kumar, a senior local police official, told reporters police arrested seven men and after watching closed circuit television footage of the attack, they were looking to arrest at least 15 others. He had no details about injuries.

Such incidents, most often perpetrated by the Shiv Sena and its breakaway faction and rival the Maharashtra Reconstruction Party, have become increasingly common in Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra in which it is located.

Both parties are led by xenophobic, rabble-rousing leaders and aggressively champion the Marathi language and the rights of residents of Maharashtra state.

Earlier this month members of the Maharashtra Reconstruction Party, known by its Marathi acronym MNS, beat up a state legislator for taking his oath of office in the national language Hindi instead of Marathi.

Members of both parties have routinely attacked migrant workers in Mumbai, most of them poor taxi drivers, blaming them for taking jobs away from local residents.

“This practice, particularly by the Shiv Sena and the MNS has actually taken root now as part of a political strategy and this must stop,” Kumar Ketakar, a senior local journalist, told CNN-IBN news channel.

Associated Press