Newspaper employees injured in attack

New York, August 1, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is shocked by the recent attack on the office of the Tamil-language newspaper Dinamalar in Thanjavur, a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

On the afternoon of July 30, about six people armed with wood sticks charged into the Dinamalar office and began destroying equipment and furniture. They assaulted employees who attempted to stop them, and several staffers were badly injured, said a news editor at the paper.

Saravana Kumar, a subeditor; Raja, a reporter; and Murugan, the office manager, were taken to Thanjavur Medical College Hospital for treatment. Pakkiri Samy, a subeditor; Janaki Raman, a computer operator; and Thanga Rajan, an office assistant, suffered minor injuries.

According to sources at the newspaper, the journalists recognized their assailants as members of Dravida Kazhagam, a nationalist organization that promotes the advancement of the Dravidian people in Tamil Nadu.

Police have arrested five suspects in the case.

The news editor at the paper told CPJ that the attack appears to have been motivated by a political cartoon that depicted Dravida Kazhagam’s leader as a rat to be chased out of the house of Tamil Nadu’s chief minister. The cartoon was published in the July 26 edition of the newspaper.

Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalitha had earlier benefited from the support of Dravida Kazhagam leader Veeramani but has recently distanced herself from Veeramani because of his connection to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a rebel group fighting for a separate state for Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil minority. The LTTE has in the past used Tamil Nadu, where the population is predominantly Tamil, as a base of operations.