The Indian Journalists’ Union on Tuesday condemned the first information reports filed against journalists Vinod Dua, Vivek Mishra and Ajay Bhadauria, calling them “an attack on free speech and expression and an obvious intimidation of media”, The Wire reported on Wednesday.
On Friday, the Delhi Police had filed an FIR against Dua for allegedly misreporting the communal violence that took place in the Capital in February and spreading fake news through his show on YouTube. Naveen Kumar, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader who filed the complaint against Dua also alleged that he had blamed the Centre of doing nothing to stop the violence in Northeast Delhi.
The district administration in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district had booked Mishra and Bhadauria last month for critical news reports. Bhadauria had tweeted about the closing down of a community kitchen in Vijaypur and Mishra had filed a report on dysfunctional cowsheds.
On June 7, around a dozen journalists from Fatehpur plunged into the Ganga for a “jal satyagraha” to protest the booking of the two journalists. They demanded that district magistrate Sanjeev Singh be sacked.
“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,” the Indian Journalists’ Union said on Tuesday. “These FIRs must be quashed. The police and administration mustn’t be allowed to deny citizens right to information.”
On June 8, the Editors’ Guild of India had called the FIR against Dua “a brazen attack on free speech”. The association also expressed concern over other incidents where journalists had to face “frivolous” charges.