At about 8:07 PM on 30th June, Journalist WhatsApp groups were abuzz with a common message :
“Hello.. An urgent info..Today Maharashtra Police reached reached Press Club of India, Delhi and asked for hall booking records and whereabouts of one of its members Vishwadeepak, a bonafide journalist working with English weekly National Herald as principal correspondent.
The Police claimed that the scribe had endorsed hall booking for a press conference called in defence of jailed DU teacher GN Saibaba.
We fear that the journalist may be detained or arrested anytime.
Please spread the word”
The message clearly mentioned that this ‘journalist’, Vishwa Deepak who is a correspondent with the Congress mouthpiece National Herald might be in the dock for endorsing a hall booking at the Press Club of India for a press conference that was called in defence of jailed Maoist GN Saibaba.
G N Saibaba, a professor of English in Ram Lal Anand College of the Delhi University, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Gadchiroli sessions court for waging war against India for his alleged Maoist links and involvement in anti-national activities in 2017.
G N Saibaba was first arrested in May 2014 on charges of being a member of the banned CPI-Maoists plus providing logistics and carrying out recruitment for them. He was then provided bail for three months on 30th June 2015 in view of his worsening health. He was given bail again in August 2016, this time by the Supreme Court against the wishes of the Maharashtra Government, which thought to free Saibaba would render him free to propagate his views and brainwash students. In a report published in February 2016, it was reported that Saibaba had recruited as many as four JNU students to carry out Maoist related activists. Incidentally, these students also belonged to the Democratic Students Union (DSU), of which JNU student Umar Khalid is also a member.
The Journalist, Vishwa Deepak has an interesting past too. He was openly pro Afzal and had resigned from Zee News in 2016. The media had tried their best to paint him as a “neutral” regardless of his anti-national views. He has written about GN Saibaba in National Herald, Congress mouthpiece, in a sympathetic tone.
He has in the past also been endorsed by Congress leaders like Priyanka Chaturvedi.
Excellent from Vishwa Deepak. Must read. https://t.co/VZi4lxJlR0
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) 5 December 2017
To confirm the news doing the rounds on WhatsApp, OpIndia got in touch with the Office Secretary of Press Club of India, Mr Jitendra Singh.
Mr Singh told OpIndia exclusively that there is some complaint in Maharashtra police station that there was some meeting organised in PCI on a certain date, and some of the attendees might have been Naxalites. He confirmed that the police had asked for details of that particular date as to who booked halls, and the details were provided. On that date, one hall for one meeting was booked by Vishwa Deepak. Though there are no direct allegations against Vishwa Deepak yet and the police are investigating the matter.
OpIndia asked specifically that if the enquiry right now is that whether Vishwa Deepak booked a hall where a press conference in support of convicted Maoist Professor GN Saibaba was held. Mr Jitendra Singh answered in the affirmative also adding that there are no direct allegations against the scribe yet.
He reiterated that the complaint is regarding some meeting that was held in Press Club of India which was in support of GN Saibaba. The police asked which meetings were held on that particular date and the details were provided.
OpIndia further asked how many meetings were held on this date, for which the Police is conducting an enquiry. Mr Singh responded that there were two meetings held and for one of them, Vishwa Deepak had indeed booked a hall. He, however, couldn’t confirm the details of the press conference held. He also said that the press conference was on “social issues” and GN Saibaba might have been mentioned, but he can’t be sure.
When asked what date was being investigated, Mr Singh asked our scribe to call after a while. When he spoke again, he said that the date being probed is 20th April 2018.