Tensions flared in Pune on Friday evening as a car carrying senior journalist Nikhil Wagle was allegedly attacked by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers at Khandoji Baba Chowk. The incident occurred amidst protests sparked by Wagle’s critical remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader LK Advani following the latter’s Bharat Ratna award.
According to reports, the BJP workers targeted Wagle’s car, throwing ink and obstructing its path as it headed towards the ‘Nirbhay Bano’ event organized by the Rashtra Seva Dal in the Singhad Road area. Wagle was accompanied by Aseem Sarode and Vishwambhar Choudhary, and all three were under police protection.
Reacting strongly to the incident, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut condemned the attack, alleging that Maha Vikas Aghadi women workers were also assaulted by “BJP goons” while the Pune Police remained passive bystanders.
In a scathing social media post, Raut criticized the BJP for what he called a “brazen bid to murder democracy” and called out former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for allegedly ordering violence against innocent citizens.
Another Shiv Sena MP, Priyanka Chaturvedi, echoed Raut’s sentiments, denouncing the attack as an act of “goondagardi” (hooliganism) under the BJP’s rule.
Earlier, Chaturvedi had sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention in the state’s law and order situation following the murder of a party leader, Abhishek Ghosalkar, in Mumbai.
Supriya Sule of the NCP also condemned the attack on Wagle, emphasizing his role as “a voice of truth and a beacon of journalism.” She decried the assault as an attack on freedom of speech, urging strict accountability for the deteriorating law and order situation under the BJP regime.
The incident stems from an FIR filed against Wagle for allegedly making derogatory remarks against PM Modi and BJP leader LK Advani. Wagle faces charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including promoting enmity between groups and defamation.
Despite the attack, Wagle managed to reach the event venue, where he addressed the audience, expressing forgiveness towards his assailants and highlighting the need for peaceful dialogue amidst political differences.
The incident underscores the escalating tensions between ruling and opposition factions in Maharashtra, with clashes erupting over ideological differences and freedom of expression.