September 08, 2019

Stop Terrorising the Messenger: DUJ

THE Delhi Union of Journalists, in a statement issued on September 3, has expressed shock and dismay at the filing of criminal cases against journalist Pawan Jaiswal of Mirzapur for shooting a video on corruption in the midday meal scheme at a government school in Seur. 

The children were filmed being served only rotis and salt whereas the school meal scheme provides for a balanced nutritious meal of vegetables and dal, besides milk and fruit on some days. The story was carried by ANI and also posted on social media. The fact that some local officials were subsequently transferred and others suspended indicates that the state government has not challenged the veracity of the video.  

Is reporting mid-day meal farce a crime, DUJ asked. It added that in the circumstances, it is outrageous that Jaiswal and two of his sources including the village pradhan should have now been charged under IPC sections 186 (voluntarily obstructing public servant in discharge of his function), 193 (false evidence), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) because the state government feels its image was being deliberately maligned by Jaiswal’s report. 

If even an innocuous video on corruption in school meals is met with such extreme measures by the Uttar Pradesh government, then all reporting from the field will come to a halt. Journalists will be reduced to PR people, reporting only the handouts and functions of the government. Such an echo chamber will seriously undermine democracy. DUJ welcomed the Jansandesh Times editor Vijay Vineet’s statement that the newspaper will stand by its correspondent, and demanded that the charges against Jaiswal and others be withdrawn immediately.