Journalist Vishwadeepak, who had famously resigned from Zee News in protest against the channel’s alleged biased coverage of the JNU protests in February 2016, has gone incommunicado after a sub-inspector from the Pune Police visited the Press Club of India office in Delhi on Saturday.
The purpose behind the visit of the cop from the Pune Police was to reportedly gather details on a media conference, organised to demand the release of jailed Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, on suspicion of being a Maoist sympathiser. The venue for the said conference in April was booked by Vishwadeepak, who’s been freelancing for National Herald newspaper.
According to reports, the cop, GR Sonawane, from the Pune Police specifically asked for the information on the person, who had booked the venue for 20 April conference. The visit, according to The Telegraph newspaper, was linked to an alleged plot to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies.
The Pune Police in June this year had sensationally produced a letter in a court stating that attempts were being made to assassinate PM Modi ‘along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi incident.’ The letter, whose authenticity had come under immense scrutiny, was allegedly recovered from activist Rona Wilson’s house in Delhi. It read, “We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi incident. It sounds suicidal and there is a chance that we might fail but party must deliberate on our proposal,” Pawar quoted the letter as saying. The purported letter indicated an assassination plan against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Incidentally, Wilson was one of the five Dalit activists, arrested by the Maharashtra Police last month. The other four activists included Sudhir Dhawale, advocate Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut and Shoma Sen. All five activists were linked to the Kabir Kala Manch which had organised Elgaar Conference in Pune on 31 December last year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the historic Anglo-Marathi battle between the British forces and the Peshwa Bajirao II. A day later, violent clashes had erupted in Bhima Koregaon leaving at least one person dead.
Janta Ka Reporter, which was the first website to report on Vishwadeepak’s stunning resignation on 21 February 2016, made several attempts to contact the journalist, but his phone has been switched off.
Modi faces his toughest electoral battle next year, when he seeks his re-election as India’s prime minister. His critics say that the building of a narrative to assassinate him is primarily to get the public’s sympathy in his favour.
National Herald executive editor Uttam Sengupta was quoted by The Telegraph as saying. “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.”
Janta Ka Reporter also contacted Pune police joint commissioner Ravindra Kadam to know if Vishwadeepak had been arrested by his police. In his response, sent by mobile text, Kadam wrote, “NO connections whatsoever with Pune Police or our investigation.”
Reacting to the development, student activist Shehla Rashid tweeted, “Since the govt has nothing to do, and has done nothing, a fake “Maoist” frenzy is being whipped up and activists/journalists are being targeted & jailed. Stand with Vishwadeepak – who exposed how Zee News put “Pakistan Jindabad” slogans into JNU videos!!”
In March Saiba and 4 others were sentenced to life imprisonment for links with a Maoist front organisation, and for carrying out ‘anti-national’ activities. All 5 men were sentenced under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Only last week, United Nations Human Rights experts had India to release Saibaba after reports emerged that his heath was fast deteriorating.
“We are concerned about reports that Dr. Saibaba is suffering from more than 15 different health problems, some of which have potentially fatal consequences,” the experts were quoted as saying.