While many had speculated yesterday that the sudden emergence of about 3,000 people outside the Bandra Station, looking to go back to their hometowns, was stage-managed by vested interests, the evidence thereof is now out.
When a north Indian activist and a journalist were arrested this morning, the name Vinay Dubey sounded new. However, he soon turned out to have connections not only with the NCP but also with organisers of the Shaheen Bagh blockade.
Dubey was arrested on the basis of a video released by him. He is heard in the video talking about taking migrant labourers to Uttar Pradesh on 18 April, not 14 April when the crown emerged out of the blue, exposing many to the danger of spreading of coronavirus, to stop which the government has been extending the nationwide lockdown again and again.
The activist is heard in the video asking people to assemble at Mumbai’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on 18 April, from where most trains to north India depart while the crowd gathered at the Bandra station from where there is no long-distance train to northern India.
Dubey was booked under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly with other people with a shared objective), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Besides, Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act has also been invoked against them.
A suspect booked in connection with the sudden eruption is a journalist who works with Marathi news channel ABP Majha. The reporter, who lives in Osmanabad, had aired such ‘fake news’ in the morning that scared the poor labourers who later gathered at the Bandra station.
In his defence, the editor of the channel said it broadcast the clip based on a South Central Railway proposal for areas where the lockdown would be relaxed.
The said circular, however, does not say explicitly that a train service is beginning from Bandra or anywhere else on 14 April.
The reporter says the police are harassing him because he had questioned the Maharashtra government’s capabilities.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Maharashtra vice-president Kirit Somaiya said he had sent a video clip to the Mumbai commissioner of police, demanding an investigation. In the clip, some people outside Bandra station are talking about asking for money when someone comes. Hear “ek-ek ko pandrah hazār de do (demand Rs 15,000 for each one in the crowd):
BJP’s additional office secretary Bharat Raut, talking exclusively to Sirf News, questioned how come the people who had left their houses in Mumbai to go to the Bandra local train station were not carrying luggage. Raut had yesterday questioned Aaditya Thackeray’s statements about the incident, following which the Maharashtra chief minister’s son blocked him on Twitter.
Raut said people of the area did not panic even when incidents of fire had occurred in the area in the past. “Yesterday’s incident was a conspiracy to belittle the efforts of the prime minister,” he said, adding that this crowd had come from faraway localities.
Today, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut accused BJP politician Kapil Mishra of being “communal” when the former MLA from Delhi tweeted the questions above.
Meanwhile, another video has surfaced where a speaker addresses a huge crowd of Muslims at the same spot, saying, “This coronavirus has not come from Allah but from (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi.”
There is yet another video where a Muslim says he came out of his house because he wanted some variety in the food the municipal corporation is supplying it during the lockdown.