NEW DELHI: A Sikh journalist, Jarnail Singh, on Tuesday flung a shoe at Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in protest against the Congress party’s decision to field Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar — accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case — for the Lok Sabha elections.
Mr. Singh — a special correspondent with the Hindi newspaper, Dainik Jagran — threw the shoe at Mr. Chidambaram during a press conference at the Congress headquarters when the Minister refused to be drawn into a discussion on Sikhs being denied justice by the party. The shoe missed the Minister by a fair margin.
The journalist was immediately whisked away by party functionaries who handed him over to the police. From the Congress headquarters, Mr. Singh was taken to the Tughlaq Road police station. He was let off after a brief detention. According to the police, no case has been registered against him.
Momentarily taken aback by the journalist’s action, Mr. Chidambaram quickly recovered composure and insisted on going on with the press conference despite the media’s attention turning entirely to the ‘breaking news.’ Asked for his reaction on the ‘shoe episode,’ the Minister said: “I forgive him.”
With the media clearly distracted, the Minister urged journalists not to allow the episode to hijack the entire press conference. “Let us not be distracted by what one person has done in a fit of emotion,” he said about the incident which found an immediate parallel with the Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi throwing a shoe at the former U.S. President, George Bush, at a press conference during a visit to Iraq last December.
Later, talking to The Hindu, Mr. Singh regretted his form of protest. “I have nothing against any political party or Mr. Chidambaram. It happened in the heat of the moment. Though my action might have been wrong, the issue remains,” he said. Urging political parties not to politicise the issue, he added that though Sikhs have come a long way since the 1984 riots, they should be given justice.
Meanwhile, Dainik Jagran strongly condemned Mr. Singh’s outburst and has initiated disciplinary action against him.
Describing the episode as an “unceremonious act,” Editor Sanjay Gupta disassociated his publication from Mr. Singh’s act; stating that it was a personal matter and had nothing to do with the paper’s policy