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Protest by angry newsmen forces CM to order probe
Disregard of law by police in arresting Dheer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Angry protests by media persons over the utter disregard for the law shown by the Punjab Police to arrest Mr Gautam Dheer, a reporter with a national daily, last night, forced the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, to order a probe against the Special Investigating Team. Dheer was released on bail in the evening.

Hundreds of journalists gathered at the Chandigarh Press Club today morning and decided to march on foot to meet Punjab Chief Minister at a function at the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) building in Sector 19, and seek his intervention to secure Mr Dheer’s release.

Furious at the outrage, media persons led by Mr Jagtar Sidhu, Convenor of the Chandigarh Newspapers and News Agencies Coordination Committee, marched raising slogans against the infringement on the freedom of the press and high-handedness of Punjab Police.

They then gheraoed the Chief Minister at the BBMB venue and sought his intervention to secure Mr Dheer’s release. After he was briefed, the Chief Minister ordered an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the arrest of Mr Dheer, Principal Correspondent with The Indian Express.

“The Home Secretary, Mr A K Dubey, will complete the probe within three to four days and the Punjab Police will not oppose the bail plea,” he assured the journalists. He said “the method used by Mr Saini is totally unacceptable. Anybody found guilty, the heads will roll,” he assured.

The Resident Editor of The Indian Express, Mr Vipin Pubby, and Mr Dheer’s wife, Ms Sonia, said that since Mr Dheer had been booked in non-bailable offences, he would be dragged into a long- drawn legal process. The Chief Minister said that all that was possible within the legal framework would be done to ensure to facilitate Mr Dheer’s release.

Capt Amarinder Singh also said that he would order a separate inquiry into the land mafia operating in the periphery of Chandigarh.

It was only around 8 pm, that Mr Dheer was finally released by the Punjab Police on medical grounds.

Mr Gautam Dheer was apparently arrested after he reported on a petition filed by the wife of an accused in what has come to be known as the “Nayagaon rape case”, pending adjudication before the Punjab Human Rights Commission. The news article appeared in The Indian Express on August 28, the same evening he was picked up. The news report also mentioned that the petitioner had accused Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, Inspector General of Police, who heads the SIT, of harassment and referred to “benami” property being owned by Mr Saini in Naya Gaon.

Last night, a posse of cops, most of them in civil clothes, swooped down at the Panchkula residence of Mr Dheer.


SIT locks horn with CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Even as the Punjab Chief Minister ordered the release of the Indian Express reporter Gautam Dheer in a case being investigated by a Punjab Police Special Investigation Team (SIT), the SIT has locked horns with the Chief Minister on this issue.

The Chief Minister’s orders to release Dheer were, at the end of the day, carried out by the Ropar police and not the SIT.

Sources stated that the SIT refused to release Dheer on bail even after the Chief Minister promised mediapersons that the police would not oppose his bail when he is presented before the court. Sources added that the SIT insisted on producing Dheer in the court since it was for the judge to take a decision regarding the bail.

Repeated attempts were also made throughout the day to convince SIT that Dheer had been falsely implicated in the case, but the SIT reportedly stuck to their “findings” against the reporter and the former Kurali SHO Jagjit Singh arrested by the SIT yesterday.

Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, IG, (Economic Offences and Special Operations), heading the SIT said: “The SIT has conducted the investigations as per facts and law and the evidence on record would be placed before the competent court.” He refused to comment further in the matter.


Editors Guild condemns arrest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
Extending support to Gautam Dheer, an Indian Express correspondent in Chandigarh, the Editors Guild of India today condemned his arrest, terming the Punjab Police action as arbitrary and violative of the principle of a free Press. “The arbitrary arrest is a clear violation of Dheer’s rights as a citizen and media professional. It is also violative of the principle of a free Press, guaranteed by the Constitution,” the guild said in a statement here.

“The message the Punjab Police seeks to send by this action is that they will not allow media scrutiny into their wrong-doing,” the statement signed by president of the body M.J. Akbar said. The guild demanded punishment for the police personnel involved in the “highhanded and condemnable” incident.

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