Friday, September 22, 2006

REPORT OF SRI OM PRAKASH AGARWAL TO THE SUDHARSHAN TV


Harassement and Torture by TTD Vigilance and Officials

Respected Sir,

I would like to bring to your kind notice that, I, Omprakash Agarwal, working as a Reporter and South India Co-ordinator in your Esteemed Channel was Harassed and Tortured by TTD officials on 30th July to 1st August 2006.

Sir, I went to Tirupathi after consultation with Senior Executives and your goodself to cover a program on Christian Religious Propoganda in Tirupathi-Tirumala for our Channel based on reports from various leading dailies of South India (ie. Vijay Karnataka, Samyukata Karnataka, Indian Express and many more print and electornic media). I also took tips from the Report of the "Fact Finding Committe" deputed by Pejawar Math Swami Sri Vishweshwar Thirtha Swamiji to probe into the affairs.

Sir, As you are aware I went to Tirupathi on 29th to Cover the Episode, I made some coverage in local Tirupathi area on 29th and on 30th Morning, I went to Tirumala Hills to cover the program with a local escort by name Damodaran aged 20-22 Years, who was familiar with local language and place. Damodaran had arranged a vehicle to take me to Tirumala. We first went to the Foothills known as Alipiri around 10:45 A.M (30th July), We reached Tirumala around 12:20 P.M and I got down near Krishna-Arjun park at the entrance of Tirumala to take few shots of some shops selling Cross and other items. Based on information received, I left for Papavinasham where there were reports of conversions taking place. We searched all the place in Papavinasham but could not gather any information, later we left for a place called as Balaji Nagar on the outskirsts of Tirumala. We enquired from various sources on the route to Balaji Nagar, as it was in news for propogation and other religious activities. At around 3 P.M, we entered Balaji Nagar searching for houses conducting Sunday prayers, Balaji Nagar is a very large Residential area which houses to about 1,000 - 2000, but almost after1 hour search we could not trace anything, We continued our search and finally around 4: 15 P.M, we came across a few houses where Cross marks were put outside the houses. We immediatley stopped our vehicle and I took video shots of 2-3 houses. After taking shots we went futher to enquire if there were any Christian families in the locality. The residents denied saying that there were no one there, When we were just talking to the ladies, two people came to us and enquired who we were. I said I am a reporter and he is my escort from Tirupathi. They did not believe us. They alleged that we only painted the cross and were shooting, They caught hold of us and within fraction of second over 60 people had gathered at the venue and harmed us physically. They took away our belongings containing our Handycam, Mini Dvs, Mike set, Channel (ID) Logo, & Bag containing clothes and cash. After a few moments The Vigilance department Officials of TTD arrived, They too harmed us and snatched away our mobile phone and took into custody all our belongings. Later they took us to the Vigilance Office led by NAGU REDDY ( V.C.O) in Tirumala and beat me and my escort Damodaran. After sometime we were taken to Joint Executive Officer Shri Dharma Reddy, there also we were beaten with sticks and were booted by this Nagu Reddy (Vigilance officer), his assistants (Murthy and others) and Dharma Reddy. Later they began to see our Video footage which we had covered. We had taken a few shots of shops in Tirumala selling Cross items. The Vigilance Officer asked me to accompany to pin point the shop where it was sold. They took me in a high secuity vehicle as a criminal to the shop. I pin pointed the shop from where Cross was sold. The shop keeper was bought to the Vigilance office and he was made to say by the Executive officer and Vigilance officer that it was I who gave him to cross to sell it. That shop keeper too was threatened to tell lies as he too was at their mercy. We were shocked seeing this behaviour of the officials who were all there to fabricate cases against us for shooting this in Tirumala. I protested and pleaded to the executive officer to show the Tape once again so that I could explain him. I pinpointed that all the products in the shop keepers premises had same company brand packing. Rather than accepting the mistake, he immediately asked his men to delete this portion of shots from the Video Dv's. The Torture continued till late night and they were forcing us to confess that we belonged to some organisaition or have been sent by some agent to blaspheme Tirupathi-Tirumala. Vigilance Officer had gone to the extent of threathening us with a loaded PISTOL to confess, otherwise he would get us killed in an ecounter declaring us as ISI Agents, Terrorists, or Naxalites. But by the grace of God and intervention by the Sub-ordinates, it did not work out. Before that they had invited all the Media persons both from the print and electronic media at the vigilance office and paraded us, and gave a one sided press note to them without allowing us to speak with the media men.

At around 2:00 A.M on 31st morning, we were sent to II Town Police Station in Tirumala. The Sub Inspector interrogated us and we apprised him about all the events which took place and placed all the facts before him. After giving our statement, he provided us some place to sleep and said he will come back in the morning. On 31st Morning at 8:00 A.M, DSP of Tirumala Shri. Satyanarayana had come to the station to interrogate us, he interrogated for around 1/2 an hour and left the place. Again around 1:30 P.M, we were shifted to DSP Office and there we were interrogated by the Superitendent of Police Shri Gopal Krishna. We put all facts before him. He was convinced by it and he openly expressed in the presence of other officials that we were INNOCENT. Later he made arrangements for Lunch for both of us. Later in the evening the Police Officials had a meeting with the TTD officials and there they had decided to release us. At Around 9 P.M, the Police Department arranged for a VIP Darshan at the temple and they later asked us to write a statement at the Tirumala II Town Police Station.
Two Sub-Inspectors took our statements and after completing, we were requested to leave the place. The S I said it was already 12: 00 A.M and it was not safe to leave at that time. He said that we could leave in the morning.

We were forced to spend one more night in Police Station and we anxiously waited for the dawn. Next day morning the Sub Inspector arrived around 7 A.M (1st August 2006) and we asked his permission to leave. He said he would consult the Supdt of Police and only after that we could leave the place.

When the S I spoke to S P, he refused stating that "there is pressure from Higher officials not to let you, as we need to interrogate both of them". It was frustrating moments for us, in the meanwhile our friends from other media on hearing our news had come all the way from Bangalore to bail us out. My escort was taken to SP office in Tirupathi and there he was interrogated by the Crime Police. That went on upto 7 in the evening. At around 9 P.M the S.I said that I could leave for Bangalore. I was bought down by a constable who escorted me upto Tirupathi.

The SI asked us to leave for Bangalore, he also sent his constable along with us to Bangalore. Next morning we reached our house and the constable accompained me till my house, He left after he took an undertaking from my mother stating that I have reached Bangalore safely.

Sir, I did not understand why there was a conspiracy to fabricate us in false cases. Is it just because we had collected some information and video shots of some incidents in Tirumala which are already popular with other Media.

I will not be surprised, if they may cook and fabricate some more cases against me to suppress some more facts. THE CONSPIRACY HAS BEEN EXPOSED.

A) Is it not an Attack on freedom of Press?
B) Is it not human rights violation to beat brutally with sticks and kick with boots?
C) Is it not a Conpiracy to Implicate us in False Charges?
D) Is it not a violation of press rights to Seize Press Material?
E) Is it not human right violation to issue Threat to our Lives?

If it is so, then what for is the Right to Information Act ?

Thanking you

Yours Truly

Omprakash Agarwal

SOUTH INDIA COORIDNATIOR

SUDARSHAN TV

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