Journalist being investigated for booking a hall at Press Club where Bhima Korgeaon activists held a seminar

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: July 2, 2018

On June 30, Pune Police collected details of a hall booking done on April 20 at the Press Club of India in New Delhi. A journalist Vishwadeepak is being investigated for booking the hall where the arrested members had held a seminar demanding the release of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.

 

Vishwadeepak

Image Courtesy: Facebook
 
New Delhi: Journalist groups on Whatsapp were abuzz with the news of Pune police visiting press clubs and conducting investigations with regards to the Bhima Koregaon violence and the subsequent arrests of activists for allegedly plotting to kill PM Modi and targeting his rallies.
 
On June 30, Pune Police collected details of a hall booking done on April 20 at the Press Club of India in New Delhi. A journalist Vishwadeepak is being investigated for booking the hall where the arrested members had held a seminar demanding the release of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.
 
 Vishawadeepak had publicly resigned from Zee News in 2016 to protest against its coverage of the arrests of students for sedition in JNU.
 
Senior human rights lawyer from Nagpur and Saibaba’s counsel Surendra Gadling; senior Dalit rights activist Sudhir Dhawale, who is also editor of bi-monthly magazine Vidrohi; Mahesh Raut, an alumnus from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and former Prime Minister Rural Development fellow; Delhi-based social activist Rona Wilson; and Shoma Sen, an associate professor from Nagpur University were arrested in the aftermath of the Bhima Koregaon violence. GN Saibaba was imprisoned for life for being a Maoist and a member of the CPI-M, a banned political outfit.
 
The activists were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It has been reported that the arrested men had allegedly spread controversial pamphlets and delivered hate speeches during an event called Elgar Parishad, which led to the riots in Pune and Mumbai. The event was held was held on December 31, 2017 to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon.
 
“The police has accused them of planning to “target Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an attack similar to the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi” and claims to have recovered a letter from Wilson’s computer suggesting the plot,” The Wire reported.
 
“The handwritten application signed by a Sub Inspector of Police refers to a case registered at the Vishramgarh Police Station in Pune. Unconfirmed reports say it mentioned charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including Section 505(B), pertaining to intending cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquility, Section 152(B) pertaining to obstructing public servant when suppressing riot, and Section 117, abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than 10 persons,” reported the National Herald.
 
The police had also visited the Marathi Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai and inquired if the five arrested persons had attended an annual lecture meeting.
 
The PCI said that it was not unusual for members to recommend the booking of halls. They informed that the booking for the April 20 event was done by a National Herald Principle Correspondent but didn’t name him. Whatsapp messages have identified him as Vishwadeepak.
 
“AS Vasantha, the wife of GN Saibaba and several academics held the media conference and sought his release. Saibaba, who needs a wheelchair, is lodged in a solitary cell,” a report by The Telegraph said.
 
The report added, “National Herald executive editor Uttam Sengupta said, "We are yet to hear from the police and have only heard about all this from friends in the Press Club. Vishwadeepak proceeded on leave from today and his number is now switched off.
 
Where is Vishwadeepak?
Sengupta spoke to The Wire and said, “Till this morning, we haven’t heard from Pune police and all that we know is from the Press Club of India. They forwarded us a copy of the application made by the Pune police. That application also does not name anyone and it also does not take the name of National Herald. It just wants to know the booking details of some function that took place on April 20 this year. So we are also as much in the dark as anyone else. It is quite possible that the police are on a fishing expedition and want to get some details.”
 
Sengupta said the office had been in touch with Vishwadeepak till yesterday. “He had applied for leave and was supposed to attend an event first before he left. But last night when we called him, his phone was switched off so we don’t know exactly what has happened. Today we are still trying to get in touch with him,” he said in the report.
 
“But what he had told me yesterday was that he had booked some hall in the Press Club, but he did not remember the date. He also said that he was not present at that seminar so he did not know what the proceedings were all about,” Sengupta added.
 
The National Herald executive editor said Vishwadeepak had done two stories on the Judge B.H. Loya case. “He had travelled to Nagpur and the stories were based on documents, they were got vetted by lawyers and no rejoinder had come on them. We haven’t heard anything on those stories and it has been a few months now.”
 
Sengupta added that Vishwadeepak is quite active and covers political parties and does investigative reporting. “He is quite active and he is friendly with activists in JNU. He had also quit Zee in protest. We support him. We do not think he has done anything wrong. I am just hoping that this is one of those fishing expeditions and not anything more,” he said in the report.

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