A sub-inspector from the Pune Police visited the Press Club of India in New Delhi on Saturday to inquire about a news conference in connection with the case against five activists arrested on June 6, The Telegraph reported.
The press conference the official wanted to know about took place on April 20 – two days after the homes and offices of the activists were raided. The journalist believed to have booked the hall for the press conference has not been reachable since Saturday.
Five activists – Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen and Surendra Gadling – were arrested on June 6 for alleged links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The police claimed their speeches at an event near Pune on December 31 led to violent clashes between Dalits and Marathas.
Vishwadeepak, a journalist who works with the National Herald, had reportedly booked the hall for the April 20 press conference. The press conference had featured some academics and AS Vasantha, the wife of jailed Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, The Wire reported. Saibaba is in prison for alleged links to a Maoist outfit. The academics had demanded Saibaba’s release in the press conference.
Vishwadeepak’s phone has reportedly been switched off since Saturday. Pune Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Kadam did not respond to messages from The Telegraph asking whether Vishwadeepak had been detained.
“We are yet to hear from the police and have only heard about all this from friends in the Press Club,” National Herald Executive Editor Uttam Sengupta told The Telegraph. “Vishwadeepak proceeded on leave from today and his number is now switched off.”
The sub-inspector, GR Sonawane, told the Press Club that the inquiry was in connection with the case registered against the activists in January, days after the event near Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
According to the National Herald, people who spoke to Vishwadeepak said he claimed to be completely unaware of the booking for the April 20 press conference.
A team of the Pune Police also visited the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh on June 28 and inquired about a public lecture organised in the memory of former Maoist ideologue Anuradha Gandhy, according to The Wire.