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ABP News served legal notice for peddling fake news

The notice said that the action of the news channel was a violation of the code of conduct and guidelines issued by the NBSA

Wednesday April 15, 2020 10:22 PM, IANS

Notice to ABP News

New Delhi: A day after scores of migrants reached the Bandra railway station in search of trains to return to their native places, social activist Saket Gokhale came down heavily on ABP Mazha channel, asking it to issue an apology to the public for irresponsible broadcast.

In a notice sent to ABP News, Gokhale said, "The notice has been served for the proceedings under the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) regulations as well as criminal action under the IPC for broadcasting fake news and inciting public disorder."

Gokhale further said that the notice was issued to highlight the active role played by ABP Mazha in rumor mongering and instigating the gathering of over 3000 people at the Bandra railway station on Tuesday.

The notice to the channel came a day after ABP Mazha ran a story on Tuesday morning after which social distancing went for a toss when scores of stranded, hungry and angry migrants from different parts of India thronged near the Bandra railway station demanding that they should be given transportation to return to their native places immediately.

The Mumbai Police, which attempted to cajole them from gathering there in such large numbers, resorted to a mild lathi charge when sections of the restive hordes threatened to go out of control.

The large crowd had gathered there following rumours of special trains being arranged to transport them to their homes in other states. The railways has clarified that no such moves were initiated.

In the notice, Gokhale said that "irresponsible and non-factual" news peddled by ABP Mazha contributed towards the gathering of a massive crowd in the middle of a pandemic induced lockdown.

"Your morning news report on Special Trains incited people to violate CrPC Section 144 orders and gather in one place during a pandemic," Gokhale said.

He further alleged that instead of being a responsible news outlet and issuing a clarification, the news channel further chose to polarise the incident, seize the opportunity, and peddle baseless conspiracy theories that would create more panic and uncertainty.

He said that the action of the news channel was a violation of the code of conduct and guidelines issued by the NBSA. He also said that the actions of ABP Mazha and ABP News on Tuesday in fuelling the incident came under criminal offences under Sections 117, 153 A, 188, 269, 270 and 505 (2) of the IPC and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1857.

Gokhale demanded that ABP Mazha and ABP News should issue a "clarification" and an "apology" for their irresponsible broadcast on Tuesday, and an internal inquiry be ordered to ascertain the source of their false news and action be taken against those found responsible.

He also directed both the news channels to provide 30 minutes of free airtime staggered through a 24-hour period for broadcasting the details of the Maharashtra Chief Minister's Relief Fund and soliciting contributions from the public.

He asked the news channel to respond to the notice within seven days or else criminal, legal and regulatory proceeding will be taken.

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