Lucknow: In the latest instance of action taken against journalists for critical reporting, the UP police lodged an FIR against three journalists from a local news channel for alleged misreporting. The report said primary students, who were not dressed to shield them from the winter, were performing yoga and other physical exercises at a government school in the biting cold, the police said. The event was part of a cultural program organised to commemorate Uttar Pradesh Day on January 24.
The FIR was lodged at Akbarpur police station in Kanpur Dehat district under Sections 505 (with intent to incite...any class or community of persons to commit any offence…) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code on Tuesday evening. It named three journalists from K News, a TV news channel. They were identified as Mohit Kashyap, Amit Singh and Yaseen Ali by Tulsiram Pandey, the station house officer (SHO) at the police station and Sunil Dutt, a Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA).
The complaint said the news item maligns the image of the district administration and was a violation of the Information Technology Act, 2000, as well.
The function in question was held to mark UP’s foundation day and was attended by state minister for technology, Ajit Pal Singh, Pratibha Shukla, MLA Akbarpur and few other MLAs of the region including Dinesh Chandra, District Magistrate (DM) Kanpur Dehat, and a few government officials,
According to the FIR, the three journalists recorded videos of the function where they said the chidren were not adequately dressed given the cold. The children were from the upper primary school in Sarsi and videos of them supposedly braving the harsh cold, performing yoga in cotton shirts and knickers, went viral after they were allegedly shared on social media platforms.
Dutt had said the videos had been shared on social media with a malafide intention. The journalists also supposedly hurt the sentiments of the teachers and yoga instructors by sharing the videos. “Yoga can not be performed in jackets or woolen clothes. It requires loose and comfortable clothing, which was followed by the upper primary school, Sarsi. The students wore their woolen clothes after completing yoga,” the FIR, accessed by NewsClick, reads.
One of the journalists whose name appeared in the FIR and who wished anonymity, told NewsClick: “We reported what we saw during the cultural program. The children were not dressed for the harsh winter and performing yoga while district administration officials were seen enjoying,” he alleged, adding that the Kanpur police was now silencing their voice by registering the FIR.
NewsClick approached Dutt and the SHO for their version of the story but calls went unanswered.
Earlier on June 18, 2020, a case was registered against Supriya Sharma, executive editor of Scroll, under the SC/ST Act and different sections of the IPC for showing the state of Domari village during the COVID-19 pandemic. The village had been adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Attacks on journalists in Uttar Pradesh have increased recently. Some have been detained, others assaulted, their camera equipment snatched and even broken in many parts of the state.