India: IJU concerns Over FIRs Against Dua, Others09 Jun, 2020
The Indian Journalists Union expresses profound concern over continuing harassment of journalists through filing of FIRs, be it senior journalist and TV anchor Vinod Dua in Delhi or Uttar Pradesh Fathepur district’s Vivek Mishra and Ajay Bhadauria. Though all three are booked recently under now familiar sections of the IPC for alleged ‘fake news’, the IJU condemns these police actions as an attack on free speech and expression and an obvious intimidation of media.
In Delhi, Dua is said to have learnt about the five-page FIR by state BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar against him on Twitter! It was filed on 4 June for “misreporting Delhi riots” and blaming Prime Minister Modi and “false contextual reporting” about Jyotiraditya Scindia joining BJP etc on his popular shows ‘The Vinod Dus Show’ and ‘Vinod Dua Live’ on HW news on YouTube and Swaraj Express TV respectively. The complaint alleged Dua committing “offence of public nuisance, mischief, printing and engraving matters known to be defamatory, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace…”
In UP, it’s reported a dozen-odd journalists in Fatehpur observed ‘jal satyagrah’ by standing waist deep in Ganga on June 7 with placards protesting against filing of FIRS against Bhadauria and Mishra by the local administration and demanding removal of District Magistrate. Mishra, with Dainik Bhaskar group, was booked after he wrote about bovines in a Gaushala not getting food and falling prey to wild dogs. Bhadurai was charged for tweeting about a community kitchen closing down in Vijaypur and a blind couple going hungry. The DM office retaliated saying Bhadauria “is not associated with any print or electronic media in the year 2020. He has constantly used his personal Twitter account to defame the administration by tweeting one-sided rumours,” following inquiry by District Information officer.
In a statement, IJU President Geetartha Pathak and General Secretary Sabina Inderjit said that the cases, like in the past, smack of intolerance and that the police registering FIRs is simply to harass and intimidate journalists from reporting the situation. These FIRs must be quashed, said the IJU leadership and the police and administration mustn’t be allowed to deny citizens right to information.