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Reuters/Shailesh Andrade
Fight for the chair.
UGLY

The Tata boardroom battle is getting so messy that journalists are getting beaten up

By Madhura Karnik

The drama surrounding Tata Sons over its ouster of chairman Cyrus Mistry just took a violent turn. A scuffle broke out between journalists and security guards deployed outside Bombay House—the 92-year-old headquarters of Tata Sons—on Nov. 4. The media had assembled outside the building before a board meeting was about to begin.

A video uploaded by the Hindustan Times shows security guards assaulting and slapping some of the photojournalists on the scene. The paper’s Arijit Sen was among the photographers injured in the fracas. Tata Sons apologized for the incident.

Tata Sons, India’s largest conglomerate, has been embroiled in an historic boardroom battle since the group sacked Mistry as chairman two weeks ago. Ratan Tata, the patriarch of the Tata family, has taken over as the interim chairman, and other top executives have since resigned.

Mistry, however, continues to remain as chairman of some key Tata firms, including Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, and Indian Hotels. The Indian Hotels board meeting was scheduled for Nov. 4 and was the first after Mistry’s removal. A huge group of journalists and photographers had gathered at the venue to catch hold of Mistry and other directors.

In a statement, Tata Sons acknowledged the assault and apologized to the press:

We deeply regret the incident during the entry of certain board directors today. We profusely apologize to the press corp and their families for this incident. We will ensure that such a situation does not recur. We do understand the difficult job and trying situations in which the media corp undertake their duty and have always supported their endeavour. We wish to reiterate that we treasure our cordial relationship with the members of the media and will strive to ensure that it is maintained.

The developments at the 148-year-old Tata Sons have been dominating headlines in India since Oct. 24, when Mistry was ousted. Since no clear reasons have been publicly articulated by the group for removing Mistry, a lot of questions remain unanswered.

Follow our continuing coverage of the Tata Sons boardroom battle here.