Protesting the alleged assault on three photojournalists by security personnel of a private agency, journalists on Tuesday took out a march from the Mumbai Press Club to Bombay House, the Tata Group’s headquarters in Mumbai.
The protesters staged a sit-in at the main entrance of Bombay House. They said the attack on the photojournalists was unjustified and intolerable and demanded ‘removal of TOPS’, a private security agency hired by the Tata Group.
The agitation was jointly organised by Mumbai Press Club, Bombay News Photographers Association, TV Journalists Association, Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists, Mantralaya and Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh and Mumbai Hindi Patrakar Sangh.
“Our demands have been partially met. We have been informed by the TOPS group that a few guards, whose conduct was found to be totally out of order, have been terminated. But they are only foot soldiers. We demand action against the company. Therefore, Tatas should disassociate from this firm,” said Gurbir Singh, a key functionary of Mumbai Press Club.
Addressing the protesting journalists, he claimed that ‘this is not the first time the TOPS group has attacked media persons. In the recent past, photojournalists were assaulted opposite Taj Mahal Hotel and near Mumbai Airport. We want a full stop on such violent acts by TOPS’.
Singh said they were supported by journalists associations across the country.
“The Press Council of India is going to conduct a free inquiry into the incident,” he said.
Three photojournalists were allegedly beaten up by the security guards on Friday last following a scuffle when ousted Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry had arrived to chair the board meeting of Indian Hotels, which runs the group's Taj brand of hotels, to approve the second quarter earnings.
Mumbai Press Club Secretary Dharmendra Jore, said, “This firm preferred to ignore our ultimatum to remove TOPS guards from Bombay House. Therefore, we had no option left, but to raise our voice...All journalists would continue the agitation till our demands are met.”
Senior journalist Jatin Desai said the Tata group is known for its corporate ethics.
“But by siding with TOPS group, it has proven that it is no different from others,” he alleged.