A team from Maharashtra Police on Saturday collected details from the Press Club of India about booking details for a seminar held on April 20, 2018 ostensibly to demand the release of physically challenged Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba.
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.
The police team left PCI after collecting the booking slip.
According to PCI sources, the club requires an existing member to recommend before a booking is confirmed and it is not unusual for members to do so.
This particular booking, they inform, was done by a journalist working for National Herald.
While neither the application made by the SI or the Press Club of India has named the member, WhatsApp messages circulating late on Saturday, June 30 evening identified the member as a journalist working for National Herald, Vishwadeepak.
Senior journalists expressed their surprise at the conduct of Maharashtra Police and wondered how booking a hall for a seminar could be described as a criminal offence
Vishwadeepak has written several reports on the mysterious death of CBI special judge BH Loya in Nagpur in December, 2014. Judge Loya at the time of his death was hearing a discharge petition filed by BJP national president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case. While Judge Loya had asked the BJP president to appear before him, after his mysterious death, Amit Shah was discharged before the end of December 2014.
Senior journalists expressed their surprise at the conduct of Maharashtra Police and wondered how booking a hall for a seminar could be described as a criminal offence.
Efforts to contact Pune Police Commissioner proved futile till the time of reporting. This report will be updated as and when the police version is received.
While the journalist concerned is on leave, people who have spoken to him maintained that he claimed to be completely unaware of the booking in question. While he admitted to have done two bookings at the Press Club, one last year and another in January this year, he wasn’t present at any one of them and is unaware of the proceedings, he said.
*This article was updated at 12.45 pm on July 1, 2018 to change the lead photograph