Jaiswal and Pal have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharging duty), 193 (false evidence) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, the police had said.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday said it would examine the FIR against the journalist who recorded a video of schoolchildren being served salt and roti as midday meal last month, amid growing resentment over the case against him. “Action has been initiated against all those found prima facie guilty in the entire matter,” state government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said. “As far as the FIR is concerned, we are getting it examined.” The energy minister was responding to questions in Lucknow after a briefing of the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The video of students of being served salt and roti in their midday meal at a government-run primary school in Mirzapur district had gone viral on social media on August 22, triggering widespread outrage and leading to the suspension of two teachers. The police had lodged a case on Monday against journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal and a representative of a village head, Rajkumar Pal, for allegedly conspiring and deliberately recording the video in a well-planned manner to malign the state government.
Jaiswal and Pal have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharging duty), 193 (false evidence) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, the police had said. In Mirzapur, media persons held a protest at the district collectorate on Tuesday over lodging of the first information report (FIR). A delegation of around 25 reporters also met Vindhyachal Divisional Commissioner Anand Kumar Singh and demanded that the case against the journalist be withdrawn. “We want that the entire episode be investigated. The divisional commissioner said he will seek a report in this regard from the district magistrate and act accordingly,” Mirzapur Press Club secretary Ajay Shankar Gupta said.
Meanwhile, when confronted by reporters, District Magistrate Anurag Patel said it was not the way to report the salt-roti incident, adding that the reporter, who works in the print media, could have taken a photograph instead of recording the video. “One person was calling another and saying, ‘I am making a video (and) I will make it viral. You help me in making this video go viral’. “You are a print-media journalist. You could have clicked a photograph if you had felt that something wrong is taking place and publish it,” the official said. “But he did not do this, and hence, his role seems to be suspicious.” Patel said it seemed that the journalist was involved in criminal conspiracy and, therefore, a case was registered against him.
Basic Education Minister Satish Dwivedi had said on Monday that the action against the journalist for merely exposing corruption and highlighting reality should not have been taken. The complaint stated that Pal was aware that only rotis were cooked and vegetable was not cooked in the Siur primary school in Jamalpur block. But “instead of arranging it”, Pal called Jaiswal and “pressed him to run it” on the electronic media, according to the complaint lodged by Mirzapur block education officer Prem Shankar Ram at the Ahraura police station on Saturday. Jaiswal, however, had denied the allegations. “This is against journalism. You can see the news and verify it,” he had told a television channel.