Editor stabbed as he leaves office

New York, August 26, 2004—Two unidentified assailants stabbed the editor of the Marathi-language daily Mahanagar outside his office in Mumbai on the evening of August 24. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is investigating whether the attack was related to Sajid Rashid’s work as a journalist.

The men approached Rashid, 48, as he was leaving his office and stabbed him twice, according to the Express News Service. Rashid was rushed to the local KEM hospital where he was in stable condition, the Press Trust of India news service reported. Police have launched an investigation into the attack, and are looking at recent articles written by Rashid to see if they are connected to the attack.

Rashid is affiliated with Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD), a progressive local organization, and has spoken out against the so-called “triple talaq” system, a local Muslim custom relating to divorce whereby a man can divorce his wife simply by uttering “talaq” three times, according to local press accounts.

In July, Rashid and other MSD members approached the Indian Muslim Law Board to discuss the “triple talaq” custom, according to the Express News Service.

Rashid has written extensively on the “triple talaq” issue, and received threats earlier this month that he reported to local police, according to Indian press accounts.

The newspaper is known for its independent stance, according to local journalists, and has been attacked several times.

On June 24, militant members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stormed Mahanagar’s offices, shouting BJP slogans and expressing anger at Mahanagar‘s editorial line, which they said was anti-BJP, according to the paper’s editor-in-chief, Nikhil Wagle.

In July, police arrested nine suspects and charged them in connection with the attack, but there have been no convictions, according to local journalists.

In 1996, hundreds of activists from the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party stormed the newspaper’s offices after the paper published criticism of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray.