Mumbai, April 16 (IANS) A Mumbai Court on Thursday granted bail to a Marathi channel reporter who was arrested in connection with the migrant crowd at Bandra two days ago.
The accused, Rahul Kulkarni, Osmanabad-based correspondent of ABP Majha news channel, was produced before a Bandra Magistrate Court which released him on a bail of Rs 15,000.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said he was glad that Kulkarni secured bail, while some other mediapersons have demanded that a thorough probe should be carried out before arresting journalists.
Kulkarni was arrested on Wednesday on charges of allegedly airing fake news which resulted in the huge migrant crowd build-up two days ago.
However, the channel on Thursday debunked allegations that its reportage on April 14 could be linked to the huge crowd of migrants outside Bandra west station.
In a statement here on Thursday, the channel termed reports linking the migrant gathering with its news reports as "entirely misconceived and circulated with the sole intention of baselessly maligning ABP Majha".
Claiming its stories were broadcast in the public interest, it said it had valid documents and information, on the basis of which it ran multiple stories on the channel.
After the PM's announcement on Tuesday at 10 a.m. on continuing the lockdown, announcements later from the Ministry of Railway pertaining to cancellation of trains and refunds till May 3, the channel said from 12.30 p.m.-1.30 p.m. it clearly announced that no trains would be running.
"There is no conceivable way in which the crowds that gathered at the Bandra West Station from around 3.45 p.m. can be linked to our stories. To insinuate that our running of the story and the updates thereafter amount to a criminal act is outrageous," ABP Majha said in a statement early on Thursday.
It expressed shock and dismay over the arrest of its reporter Rahul Kulkarni and said it would take immediate legal measures in this regard.
The channel contended that there was no denial of the Railway Ministry's letter of April 13 recommending running of trains to return migrants to their hometowns, but after the RM's announcement that no trains would be run till May 3, 2020, it had immediately run the story on its news bulletins.
"We would like to say that before journalists are arrested there should be due verification of all facts and circumstances," said ABP Majha.
Among other things, Kulkarni has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Epidemic Diseases Act, according to Mumbai Police Spokesperson and DCP Pranaya Ashok.
Taking serious note of the incident on Tuesday near Bandra station, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a thorough investigation, resulting in the arrest of a Navi Mumbai-based self-styled activist Vinay Dube. He has been remanded to police custody till April 21.
DCP Abhishek Trimukhe said that the Bandra Police have so far filed three FIRs in connection with the migrants' morcha incident, and against activist Vinay Dube, the journalist and some others.
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