After some photojournalists were assaulted by Tata Sons' security guards on Friday, the Mumbai Press Club has given an ultimatum to business giant to remove TOPS guards, not only from Bombay House but also from all Tata Group companies latest by 12 pm on Monday. The organisation warned of "massive protests" against the company if it did not act upon the Press Club's request.
"Mumbai Press Club along with other organisations including Bombay News Photographers Association, Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, TV Journalists Association and BUJ have decided to lead a massive protest march on Tuesday, 8 November, from Mumbai Press Club to Bombay House in case the Tata Sons fails to remove TOPS guards from Tata Group of companies by 12 pm on Monday. More agitations will continue in the coming days if our demand is not met," the press club's official media release read.
On Friday, at least three news photographers were injured at the premises of Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tata Group, after they were beaten up by the Tata security staff when they were trying to click pictures of the company's recently sacked CEO, Cyrus Mistry. Mistry was present at the Bombay House to chair a board meeting of Tata group firm, Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IGHCL), when the photographers rushed to get his pictures. The photographers, reportedly went beyond the cordoned area, and were later beaten up by the guards.
According to the Mumbai Press Club's media release, Atul Kamble, a photo-journalist from Mid-Day was pinned down by four-five security guards, and assaulted. Apart from Atul, two other photo-journalists — Shantha Kumar from The Times of India and Arijit Sen from Hindustan Times — were also injured and are undergoing treatment in a hospital. The camera and other equipment of many photographers was badly damaged or broken by the security personnel.
According to a Tata group spokesperson, some members of the security staff too suffered injuries in the scuffle. Cameras belonging to the photojournalists of Mid-Day and Hindustan Times were also damaged.
Following this, Tata Sons also gave out a formal apology to journalists stating, "We deeply regret about the incident during the entry of certain board directors today & apologize to press & their families," according to ANI.
The Mumbai Press Club had condemned the attack on the lens men. “The Mumbai Press Club does not expect a corporate house like Tatas to indulge in violent practices against media persons, and demands explanation from the corporate authorities who allowed security personnel to take this extreme step,” the Press Club said in its official statement.
The company, already embroiled in controversy over the unceremonious ouster of Mistry, has made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Tata Sons is the main holding company of the group. The Tata group has been hoping that Mistry will step down from the positions he occupies in the group firms after being replaced as Chairman on 24 October 24. However, according to PTI, sources close to Mistry suggest he has no plans to step down from his other positions in the group.
At present, he is the Chairman of Tata companies such as Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Indian Hotels Co Ltd (IHCL), Tata Power Company, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Tata Industries and Tata Teleservices.
With inputs from PTI