Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 10:56 UK

Shoe attack on Indian minister


The shoe attack as it happened

A Sikh reporter threw a shoe at the Indian home minister during a news conference after he was angered over the minister's reply to a question.

Palaniappan Chidambaram was speaking in Delhi about 1984 riots in which hundreds of Sikhs were killed.

The minister leaned back to avoid the hurled shoe which narrowly missed him.

Witnesses say the minister appeared unfazed by the attack which was similar to a shoe-throwing attack on former US President Bush in Iraq in December.

'Issue is right'

"Please take him away, gently, gently, gently, doesn't matter, please settle down, please settle down," a smiling Mr Chidambaram said as commotion broke out at the press conference.

Correspondents say that the minister is the latest in a prominent line of world leaders who have been subjected to a shoe attack - considered an insult in India.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has also suffered the indignity. Mr Chidambaram moved out of the way as the trainer whistled past his head.

The reporter was identified by local television channels as Jarnail Singh, a veteran correspondent with one of India's largest newspapers, the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran.

He was taken away by plainclothes police who tried to stop him from speaking to other journalists. It is not clear whether he has been formally arrested.

Soon afterwards, Mr Singh told TV news reporters that he regretted throwing the shoe but he felt that Mr Chidambaram was dodging the question.

"I just wanted to ask him how justice will be done, but he was not interested in answering the questions," he told CNN-IBN during a telephone interview from police custody.

"I don't think it was the right way, what I have done, but the issue is right."

Witnesses say that the reporter took off a trainer and threw it after the minister began answering a question about a government investigation into two leaders from the minister's Congress party accused of leading rioters against Sikhs in 1984.

The disturbances in Delhi were among the most violent in recent Indian history and happened after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Most of those killed were Sikhs.

Mr Chidambaram had called the press briefing to launch a Congress party report on countering terrorism ahead of a general elections that begin on 16 April.

The Iraqi journalist who threw a shoe at Mr Bush won worldwide fame but was jailed for three years earlier this month.

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