AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal on Thursday apologised for abusing and threatening a journalist who asked him politically loaded question on next year’s general elections.
Ajmal had on Wednesday threatened to smash a local reporter’s head who questioned the AIUDF chief’s alliance plans for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Badruddin Ajmal’s apology comes amid state-wide protests with journalists’ associations, political parties and several outfits condemning his comments.
In a tweet, Ajmal said, “Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and I have always respected media persons and everybody knows that I have sincere regards for them.
“The Mankachar incident was an unintentional aberration and I sincerely apologise for that to all concerned (sic).”
In another tweet, he said, “The incident which took place today was not intentional. The concerned reporter used to ask silly question every time (sic).”
The Wednesday incident was condemned by the ruling BJP, its ally AGP and the opposition Congress.
The parties said Ajmal had not only insulted the particular journalist, but the fourth pillar of democracy and the people of Assam as a Parliamentarian.
The influential All Assam’s Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) demanded the Dhubri lawmaker’s arrest over the incident.
The journalist who was threatened by Ajmal has already registered a police case.
In Nalbari district’s Tihu, journalists and members of Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) staged a protest and burnt Ajmal’s effigy.
Members of United Television Media Association wore black badges and staged a sit-in at the Dispur Press Club premises. Referring to Ajmal’s apology on twitter, they said since he abused the reporter at a public event, he should hold a press conference and apologise rather than posting messages on social media.
Assam State Journalists Association chief Jitu Sarma condemned the incident and said, “He should learn how to talk to journalists as media is the fourth pillar of democracy.”
In a statement, the Journalists’ Forum Assam or JFA said, “It is a matter of shame for a lawmaker in the world’s largest democracy that he could not digest a question in a formal press conference.”
The forum urged all media persons to unite against such “unruly behaviour of men in power in the spirit of authentic journalism for the benefit of our great nation and also survival of the medium”.
Activist Akhil Gogoi of Krishak Mukti Sangram Parishad demanded Ajmal’s arrest in attempt to murder case and also asked the state government to provide him security.
“He (Ajmal) had snatched away the boom. Ajmal’s supporters present at the spot also threatened to attack the journalist. The scribe is at risk as he is now known to the supporters of Ajmal. At any given point of time, he might face death threat,” Gogoi said.
On Wedneday, Ajmal was talking to reporters after a function at Mankachar in South Salmara-Mankachar district when the journalist asked him about AIUDF’s alliance plans for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. He refused a direct reply and said, “We are with Mahagathbandhan (opposition) in Delhi.”
The journalist then persisted and asked whether AIUDF would change its position after the polls depending on which party won.
To this, Ajmal lost his temper and said, “How many crore will you give? (abuse)... Is it journalism? People like you are demeaning journalism. This man is against us from earlier on.”
Ajmal then rained more abuses, snatched the mike of another journalist and tried to hit the scribe who had asked the question.
“He is asking for how much money will I be sold to BJP? His father will be sold. Go from here or else I will break your head. Go and file a case against me...(abuse)... I have my men in court...you will be finished. You have done this earlier also,” the leader said.
The journalist was then made to apologise by Ajmal’s men for asking the question.
(With PTI inputs)