A group of lawyers here Friday attacked media persons, stoned their vehicles, police and college students in an ugly display of anger over media coverage of their January protest that had gridlocked traffic for hours in the city’s central business district.
The lawyers pounced on large number of reporters, including women, TV camera crew and photographers gathered at the crowded civil court premises in the heart of the city to cover court appearance of former Karnataka minister and mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy in an illegal mining case.
At least two cameramen of two Kannada channels suffered bleeding head injuries in the assault while Deputy Commissioner of Police G. Ramesh was hit on the head by stone thrown by lawyers.
Eyewitnesses said that lawyers even threw down chairs, glass tumblers, and flower pots from the upper floors of the multi-storied court complex, about a km from Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat housing the offices of the chief minister, ministers and the two houses of the legislature.
A few OB vans and vehicles parked in the usually crowded complex were also damaged in the stone throwing.
Going berserk, the lawyers stoned students of a government college nearby as well.
Police cane-charged and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the lawyers.
The trouble started when a few advocates objected to TV crew and photographers trying to capture Reddy coming out of the vehicle to proceed to the court.
With media persons asserting their right to carry out their work, lawyers pounced on them. They also turned their ire on police personnel who intervened.
Protesting against the lawyers attack on them, media persons later staged a sit-in at the court premises demanding immediate arrest of the culprits.
Bangalore Police Commissioner B.G. Jyothiprakash Mirji arrived at the spot to pacify them.
Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Home Minister R. Ashoka, and retired Supreme Court judge and former Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde condemned the lawyers’ behaviour.
Gowda and Ashoka promised that “strict action” will be taken against the guilty and “none will be spared”.
Gowda held a meeting with Ashoka, senior civil and police officials and representatives of media organizations to decide on way to prevent attacks on media people.
Friday’s assault was apparently in protest against media coverage of lawyers’ agitation in Bangalore in January which had brought traffic in most parts of the central business district to virtual standstill for seven hours. The lawyers had blocked one of the main avenues, Kempegowda Road, in the city centre protesting police assault on their colleague.
The January agitation of lawyers had come in for severe criticism from the people as well as Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, a former union law minister, as hundreds of people had to walk for miles to reach their destination. Those travelling long distance and ambulances taking patients to hospitals were among the worst hit by that agitation.