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Mumbai, April 16, 2020
Hours after its reporter was arrested by Mumbai Police, the ABP Majha Marathi news TV channel has debunked allegations that its reportage on April 14 could be linked to the huge crowd of migrants thronging outside Bandra west station.
In a statement here on Thursday, the channel has 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 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 12.30-13.30 hrs 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 today.
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 the ABP Majha.
Meanwhile, Kulkarni – who was arrested by Bandra Police after his arrival here from Osmanabad – will be produced before a Mumbai magistrate later in the day.
Among other things, he has been charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code and 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 an activist Vinay Dube, the journalist and some others.