Rajdeep Sardesai breaks his silence: Blogs on Madison Square Garden incident

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was enthralling Indian-Americans and the Americans in US, something else caught the eye of the media worldwide.

Rajdeep Sardesai breaks his silence: Blogs on Madison Square Garden incident

The infamous incident of a scuffle between consulting editor India Today Group Rajdeep Sardesai with a mob of Modi supporters at the Madison Square Garden garnered a lot of attention on social media, newspapers and TV channels alike. The Prime Minister was scheduled to deliver his speech at the Madison Square Garden on 28 September and from well-known industrialists to an average Indian-American – everyone was present at the venue.

Sardesai’s scuffle with the mob has many versions – both online and offline. The topic was such a rage on twitter that the twitterati was divided into Sardesai haters and those who stood by what the journalist had done. In fact, Firstpost carried an eye witness account of the whole incident.

After almost two weeks, Rajdeep Sardesai breaks his silence. On his personal blog, the journalist remembers what happened at the Madison Square Garden. Here is what Sardesai wrote.

“Over the last week, several versions have appeared on an unfortunate incident at Madison Square Garden when Prime Minister was addressing the Indian American community.

Through this period, I have chosen to remain mainly silent because I didn’t want to add to the noise that has prevented any rational explanation.

However, I do believe it is important to put events of the day in context. I along with my camera person was outside Madison Square garden about three hours before the prime minister was to arrive. Our aim was to capture the mood, which was joyous and excited.We were able to reflect much of this in our coverage.

I probably took more selfies on a single day than ever before with the crowd.

Sadly, a small group of people began to heckle and abuse us. For a long while, I smiled and shrugged this off and even tried to strike up a conversation to ease the tension.

But after a while, the heckling reached a stage where we had to stop the broadcast as the crowd began to push and jostle. I was abused in terribly foul terms, my family was called names and I was kicked in the shins when my back was turned. The pushing and jostling continued even as I tried not to engage. I had gone to the event with hopes of goodwill instead the volley of name calling was unrelenting and shocking to me.My camera person and other witnesses would bear testimony to this.

A few moments later, I saw someone heckle me again and I lost my patience .I uttered an expletive and lunged at the person. It was an unfortunate response and one which I deeply regret. Whatever the provocation, there is no excuse for me to have got into a scuffle.

Over 26 years of journalism, I have endured a variety of situations but have always maintained my dignity and composure. No amount of provocation justifies a physical response.

I do, however, believe that surrounding, heckling and hurling vicious personalized abuse while a journalist is doing a professional job is also unacceptable. We journalists have a challenging job at the best of times and only ask to be allowed to perform our duties unhindered without intimidation.

The freedom of the press is an integral part of our democracy and should be respected by all.”

Posted by on October 11, 2014. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.