Agra-based journo released on bail

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Agra-based journo released on bail

Agra: Journalist Gaurav Bansal, 39, who was arrested on March 15 for reporting about alleged electoral malpractices in the recently held Uttar Pradesh elections, was released from jail, late on Monday evening, after he obtained bail.

The court of additional chief judicial magistrate granted him bail after hearing the application moved by the scribe’s counsel.

Journalists in Agra, opposing the arrest of Bansal, welcomed the court’s order.

Gaurav was arrested on March 15 after he reached a counting centre in Agra on March 8 and alleged that EVMs were being replaced, amid polling for the UP assembly. The scribe was also accused of misbehaving with policemen.

Bansal’s lawyer accused the police of torturing him in custody, and alleged that “he was given third-degree torture and humiliated by policemen.”

The journalist was booked under Sections 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault on public servant), 504 (provocation to break peace) of the IPC and 7 Criminal Law Amendment Act at Etmadaula police station of Agra.

He was presented in court and sent to judicial custody.

Bansal’s counsel sought bail on the ground that his client was innocent but the prosecution opposed the bail plea.

Earlier on Monday, the Editors Guild of India called for an independent court-monitored probe into the arrest of Bansal.

“The Editors Guild of India is shocked by the manner in which an Agra-based journalist, Gaurav Bansal, was arrested and allegedly tortured for reporting about electoral malpractices in the recent assembly elections,” the body said in a statement.

Noting that Bansal’s lawyer alleged that “he was given third degree torture and humiliated by police officers”, the guild said that the scribe should be immediately released and there should be an independent court-monitored inquiry.

The police charged Bansal under penal laws for obstructing a government officer from discharging his duty, the guild noted.

The guild said it was deeply concerned that penal laws were ever so often used as tools to harass and intimidate journalists from freely reporting on sensitive issues.

The Editors Guild of India also urged the state government to ensure that the rights of the media were protected and journalists were not harassed from doing their job fearlessly.

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