M Karthi sustained cuts to the head and lost 8 teeth in the vicious attack
On March 03, M Karthi, Virudhunagar district correspondent of Tamil weekly Kumudham Reporter, was brutally attacked at Sivakasi by unknown assailants. They attacked him with iron rods and long knives, according to the journalist.
He has sustained grievous cuts on his head and has lost six teeth on his upper jaw and two teeth in the lower jaw. Karthi is currently undergoing treatment at a private hospital, Sudha Nursing Home in Sivakasi.
Dairy Minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji’s involvement in this attack is suspected.
The Lede has details of the FIR (First Information Report) filed by the Sivakasi Town police station. The FIR has been filed against unknown person/s under sections 341, 294(b) and 307 IPC.
Section 341 deals with wrongful restraint, Section 294 (b) deals with punishment for anyone who sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place and Section 307 is attempt to murder.
We are publishing here the key translated excerpts from the FIR.
“On 03.03.2020, Sub Inspector P Pandian of Sivakasi Town Police Station got a call from Sudha Nursing Home at 21:35 hrs. He took the complaint from the complainant M Karthi at 23:00 hrs and filed the FIR at 23:30 hrs
Complaint says - "This morning my article about Minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji and MLA Raja Varman was published in Kumudham Reporter magazine where I am employed as the Virudhunagar district correspondent. I had been getting a lot of annoying calls from the morning. Raja Varman called and I spoke to him. KT Rajendra Balaji called and I spoke to him. Immediately after that a call came from the number XXXX and the caller introduced himself as Arogyam. I asked him what he wanted. The caller told me that he had a lot of proof against Minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji. I told him I had to get permission from my office before I can proceed. I was traveling by my 2-wheeler when I got a call from KTR. He said I have some news for you, I don't want phone records of the call, so call me from an STD booth. At 8 pm I called KTR from an STD booth near the Sivakasi Municipality and spoke to him on the land line. He said - you seem to have some evidence against me? I said I don't have any evidence and even if I did, I would have to share it only with my office. He did not believe me.
When I asked him what news he wanted to give me, he said a councillor's husband was having an affair with an important man's wife. Won't you publish all this, he asked angrily. I told him I have to check with my office. At 8.15 pm, I left the place and went to Bell Hotel to have tea. At 8.30 pm I went out of the hotel to smoke a cigarette, at the northern side of the hotel.
A male, 50-55 years old, dressed in a white t-shirt and a lungi stopped me and asked - will you publish news, you b*****d? I will kill you today.
And then he started hitting me repeatedly with an iron pipe on my head and my mouth. When I shouted, passersby started to arrive and he ran away. There were 2 other men standing near a truck. I am not sure if they were with my attacker."
“My father has lost 8 teeth and he has severe cuts on his head,” Karthi’s daughter K Rajalakshmi told The Lede.
Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Karthi.
Journalists of Virudhunagar district staged a protest on March 04 condemning the attack and demanding the arrest of those responsible.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) President and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin issued a statement condemning the attack on the journalist.
Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief and actor Kamal Haasan too issued a statement condemning the attack and calling it a “challenge to the freedom of the press”.
The Lede was unable to reach Minister Rajenthra Bhalaji for his response to the allegations. He did not answer his phone despite repeated calls.
His assistant hung up when this reporter introduced herself. He did not answer subsequent calls.
This report will be updated if he responds.