Press Freedom

In signal to Modi critic Siddharth Varadarajan, goons beat up caretaker of his flat

'Tell your sahib to watch what he says on TV,' the four men said.

Senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, former editor of The Hindu newspaper, today posted on his Facebook and Twitter pages to say that four men had beaten up the caretaker of his Delhi flat on 23 February and said, "Tell your sahib to watch what he says on TV."

Varadarajan often appears on TV news shows as a political commentator and is also the author of a book on the Gujarat riots of 2002. Varadrajan had quit The Hindu in October 2013 after the newspaper's board had decided to appoint Malini Parthasarthy as editor. A member of The Hindu board had criticised Varadarajan for not giving adequate space to articles about BJP leader Narendra Modi.

The unidentified men also issued threats against Varadarajan's wife, the sociologist Nandini Sundar. Sundar, author of a book on the Bastar region, has been waging a battle in and outside court against the Chhattisgarh government for alleged human rights excesses.

Neither Varadarajan nor Sundar were home when the attackers visited.

Varadarajan said he did not want to speculate on the motives of the attackers, and that the caretaker was not hurt too badly and is recovering. "He is shaken, more than anything else." The Delhi Police has been very co-operative and is examining CCTV footage to see if the caretaker can identify the attackers walking around the neighbourhood."

"I am making this incident public on the advice of friends who believe it may serve some deterrent value," Varadarajan wrote on Facebook.

Does he plan to watch what he says on TV? "No!" he said. "The funny thing is I don't even know what could have provoked whom because I am speaking on TV every other day."

Here's a video of Varadarajan speaking on communal violence in Gujarat.

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