Police have filed cases against several journalists in at least five different states of India, labelling their reporting of the Jan 26 events as ”seditious”. Meanwhile freelance journalist Mandeep Punia has been arrested.
The main accused are Rajdeep Sardesai, a prominent anchor on the India Today television channel, and Vinod Jose, executive editor of the Caravan magazine.
According to media reports, the cases were filled by the residents of the states who complained that the journos had provoked violence while reporting ‘incorrectly’ on the protests by farmers at New Delhi’s Red Fort on Jan 26.
The complainants stated that it was reported by the journalists that police had killed a protester which they deemed incorrect and misleading.
During the violence, a protestor was being reported dead. According to an eye-witness, he died when the tractor which he was driving overturned and crushed him. While some suggested that he had been shot by the police, who denied the allegation.
Later the deceased’s post mortem report declared that he was not shot but crushed by tractor.
Jose has already clarified that his reporters on the field actually heard from a witness and a relative of the dead man that he had been shot.
The Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India and several other journalist groups have condemned the charges against the journalists.
“It is not a coincidence that the cases have largely been registered in states that are ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” said Anand Sahay, president of the Press Club of India.
On January 26, the Indian farmer community organized a tractor rally on the country’s Republic Day in Delhi. The Capital witnessed unwanted chaos as Delhi police and the protestors clashed, resulting in many injuries on both sides.
The farmers have been protesting against the agricultural reforms introduced by Narendra Modi-led government since last year.
Mandeep Punia, an Indian freelance journalist, was arrested and now he has been sent to jail for 14 days.
According to media reports, Punia had been picked up at Singhu border on Saturday while he was covering a violence at the protest site followed by Jan 26 events.
Police accused Punia of obstructing them in the discharge of their duties and beating police personnel.
Following Punia’s detention, several farm leaders and rights groups have demanded his release.