A journalist from Haryana's Hisar district has been charged with defamation and illegal trespassing by the police for a report showing the mishandling of grains at a government storage facility, in the latest blow to press freedom in the country.
A First Information Report or FIR has been filed against Anoop Kundu on September 8 at the Uklana police station in Hisar district. Mr Kundu was investigating irregularities at the State Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department in Uklana.
The complainant, Assistant Food and Supplies Officer Sandeep Chahal, claimed that the story by the journalist carried a fake video that has been used to defame the department and its officials.
However, the journalist has maintained that his report was accurate and when it aired on his channel, he even received compliments from the food and civil supplies minister Karan Dev Kamboj.
After a protest by local journalists against the filing of the case against Mr Kundu, the district administration has promised that the case will be investigated again.
The incident comes less than two weeks after a case was filed against a journalist in Uttar Pradesh after he exposed how students at a government school were eating rotis with salt as their mid-day meal under a flagship scheme of the central government.
The case triggered massive outrage against the state government.
India dropped two places on a global press freedom index, coming in at 140th out of 180 countries in the annual Reporters Without Borders analysis released in April this year.
"Violence against journalists including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India. At least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. A number of doubts surround a seventh case, the index noted.
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