Three persons, including two reporters from Republic TV and a driver, have been arrested for allegedly trespassing in Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s farmhouse in Raigad district, as per media reports.
Republic Media has issued a statement alleging that its right to report has been denied by the Maharashtra government after its team enquired with a security guard “about a certain residence”, but was apprehended and sent to four-day custody without being given the opportunity to seek legal representation.
The Republic TV crew comprising reporter Anuj Kumar and video journalist Yashpaljit Singh, along with Ola cab driver Pradeep Dilip Dhanavade, were charged for trespassing by the police, the network said.
“The illegal detention of our reporter and video journalist is an attack on constitutionally guaranteed rights with a motivation to muzzle a free press, deny the right to report, and to deter any journalist from speaking truth to power and pursuing stories of public interest as the fourth pillar of our democracy,” the statement said.
Police officials claimed that the trio enquired about the location of Thackeray’s farmhouse in Raigad with a man who was passing by, but he told them that he was not aware of it. When the trio eventually found Thackeray’s farmhouse and entered the premises, they found the same man working there as a security guard. They allegedly confronted the guard and abused him, the official was quoted by PTI.
The guard is said to have approached the Khalapur police station to lodge a complaint against the three people.
As per reports, an offence under section 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 448 (punishment for house-trespass), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation), 34 of IPC have been charged against the three persons.
However, the news media has said that if the intent was to “trespass”, the crew would not have enquired with a security guard about it. It added that the network will fight for justice and take every legal recourse available.
Republic Media further said that the reporter is being pressured by the state machinery to reveal the story the team was pursuing and leads and sources. The network added that it will not reveal the source or the story and will stand by its team.
(With PTI inputs)