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Missile misses PC, but hits Cong hard
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
In a repeat of the recent shoe-hurling incidents involving former US President George Bush in Iraq and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Cambridge, a Sikh journalist tossed a shoe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram here today.

Chidambaram was addressing mediapersons at the AICC headquarters when Jarnail Singh, a journalist with Dainik Jagran, flung the shoe, in protest against the clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 riots case.

The Home Minister was speaking on terror and the measures taken by the government to deal with it. It all began with Jarnail questioning Chidambaram if the CBI clean chit to Tytler was under pressure from the government? Before posing the question, Jarnail also attempted to make a statement regarding the riots. But the Minister asked him to come to the point.

In reply to Jarnail’s query, Chidambaram said: “Firstly, CBI is not under the Home Ministry. And neither the Home Ministry nor any other ministry of the government had put any pressure on the CBI. The agency has only submitted its report and now it’s for the court to accept or reject it. Let’s be patient and wait for the court decision.”

As the journalist persisted with his questions, Chidambaram said: “No arguments, you are using this forum...” At this, Jarnail got up and hurled the shoe, shouting: “I protest.” An alert Home Minister, however, instantly ducked aside to see the shoe pass by him. His only reaction was: “Please take him away… gently, gently.”

As Jarnail was being whisked out of the conference hall by securitymen, Chidambaram remained unruffled and continued with his press conference.

The journalist’s unexpected action caused a flutter in the hall with several of his colleagues rushing outside to see his fate. Amid chaos, a composed Chidambaram appealed to the reporters not to let the action of one emotional person hijack the entire conference. “I have answered his questions to the best of my ability,” he said. Chidambaram also said that he had forgiven Jarnail.

But after the incident, there was utter chaos at the press conference and the minister only took a couple of questions and would up the conference.

While being taken to the Tuglak Road police station, Jarnail said, “My manner of protest might have been wrong, but I did not intend to hurt anyone. The method was wrong but the issue was right. I don’t think any journalist should repeat it. I only did it to protest the clean chit to Tytler. This should not provoke any more incidents and no one should try to imitate them.”

Known in journalism circles as a calm person, Jarnail is a defence and health correspondent.

Asked if he could well have used some other mode to protest, Jarnail said, “For the past 25 years, this has been happening. So what other method is left.” He was let off after spending close to an hour at the police station following the intervention of the Home Minister, who obviously did not want the issue to be dragged further.

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