Three people associated with news channel Republic TV, icluding two journalists, were arrested for allegedly trespassing on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s farmhouse in Raigad near Mumbai.
The early statement issued by Raigad Police made no mention of their profession but the network said its reporter Anuj Kumar, video journalist Yashpaljit Singh and Ola cab driver Pradeep Dilip Dhanavade were taken into "illegal police custody".
The network said its reporting team was "following a journalistic lead in an investigative assignment" in Karjat in Raigad.
"In what is the biggest clampdown on the right to report, the Republic team was apprehended and thrown into jail for 4 days after making an enquiry with a security guard of a certain residence. We are shocked that the Republic team was denied any legal representation before being sent to 4 days of custody," it said.
"Our team, which is in jail at present, has been charged under sections of trespassing. This is in blatant contradiction to the facts recorded in the press statement by the Police given that it is on-record that the Republic team was apprehended on approaching a security guard. Should the intent have been to ‘trespass’ as is being alleged, an official enquiry to a security guard at a residential gate would not have been made," Republic TV said in a statement.
"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," it added.
Earlier, the police said that a security guard who was on night duty at Uddhav Thackeray's farmhouse was on his way to report for duty, when three people in a WagonR car approached him and asked the address of farmhouse.
The security guard, who is also the complainant, told them he didn’t know and moved on. After some time, three people suddenly entered the guardroom and started abusing him. They called out his lie from earlier and manhandled him.
Based on security guard's statement, police have filed a complaint under sections 452, 448, 323, 504, 506 and 34 of the IPC.
This comes days after an unidentified man allegedly phoned Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's personal residence Matoshree in Bandra, saying he was calling from Dubai on behalf of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.