A police case has been filed against "The Wire" editor Siddharth Varadarajan over his tweet sharing a news report filed by the web portal regarding the death of a farmer during the tractor rally on Republic Day. The First Information Report accuses him of making imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration and statements conducing to public mischief.
The farmer who died in Delhi was from a village in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur and the case was filed on a complaint by a local resident.
The story was based on the comments from farmers' family who alleged that he had been shot. The family also said one of the doctors who conducted the postmortem on the body, had confided in them about this but said "the hands of the doctors are tied". The Delhi Police had said the farmer died after his tractor had overturned.
The doctors who conducted the postmortem later issued a signed statement denying they spoke to the family or anyone else about the postmortem.
Story has already been updated to include the official declaration by the three doctors. Thank you.— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) January 30, 2021
Hope you understand your story could cause law and order problem here. It has already caused tensed situation here. Responsibility?— DM Rampur (@DeoRampur) January 30, 2021
The Uttar Pradesh police have said his postmortem shows he was not shot, as claimed by his family. "He succumbed to the injuries he received after his tractor turned turtle," Avinash Chandra, a senior police officer of Bareilly region was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The farmer had died during the protest near Delhi's ITO, where violence broke out. CCTV footage of his tractor overturning was widely circulated.
"What's the IPC provision for "malicious prosecution"? Here is the UP Police indulging in it, filing an FIR against me for tweeting about what the grandfather of farmer who was killed in the tractor parade had said on the record!," Mr Varadrajan has tweeted.
Siddharth Varadrajan is the seventh journalist to be accused over the issue.
Earlier, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath and Vinod K Jose were accused of sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity under the Indian Penal Code in a case filed in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
Objecting to the police action, Editors' Guild chief Seema Mustafa had said: "The journalists have been specifically targeted for reporting the accounts pertaining to the death of one of the protestors on their personal social media handles as well as those of the publications they lead and represent. It must be noted that on the day of the protest and high action, several reports were emerging from eyewitnesses on the ground as well as from the police, and therefore it was only natural for journalists to report all the details as they emerged. This is in line with established norms of journalistic practice."