New Delhi: A Sikh journalist threw a shoe at Union home minister P. Chidambaram at a press conference in the National Capital on Tuesday, a day that also saw hundreds of Sikhs across the country protesting against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) decision to give a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
Bush style: A TV grab of the journalist throwing a shoe at home minister P. Chidambaram during a press conference on Tuesday in New Delhi. PTI
The shoe that Jarnail Singh, a reporter with Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, hurled at Chidambaram, who was addressing the media at the Congress party headquarters, however, missed him.
The journalist, who was sitting in the front row, became angry when Chidambaram, who had answered his questions, told him that he cannot indulge in arguments over his answers. “I protest,” Singh said and threw the shoe at the minister.
“Please take him away... gently, gently, doesn’t matter, please settle down, please settle down,” the home minister said as the press conference turned chaotic.
“I forgive him,” Chidambaram said later.
Singh was taken away by the police, but was released without charges within hours. “My method was wrong, but the issue was genuine. I did not want to hurt anyone, but to highlight the issue,” he told reporters after his release.
Before throwing the shoe, Singh had asked Chidambaram if there was a “conspiracy” behind CBI’s clean chit to Tytler, who is the Congress candidate from north-east Delhi constituency in the general election that starts on 16 April. The home minister said CBI had submitted its report at the trial court, which would take a decision.
Tytler, it was alleged, instigated rioters after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, who later said they wanted to take revenge on her for ordering a military action against militants holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs. More than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots that followed her assassination. However, CBI said there was no adequate evidence to prosecute Tytler.
The main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party immediately condemned the incident.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) was, however, non-committal. “In this democracy, everyone has a right to protest in any way..., but I do not think throwing shoes at anyone is a way to protest,” said Sitaram Yechury, party politburo member and Rajya Sabha member.
Later in the day, the Congress party indicated that it was open to reviewing the candidatures of Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who were facing allegations of involvement in the anti-Sikh riots.
“The Congress is a large party and it takes considered decisions at appropriate time. Let us see what solutions emerge in the future,” party spokesman Ashwini Kumar said at a briefing held hours after the incident. He was asked to comment whether the party would withdraw the nominations of Tytler and Kumar.
Ruhi Tewari contributed to this story.