The Gurugram police have filed a first information report against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and senior journalists such as Rajdeep Sardesai and Mrinal Pande in connection with the violence that erupted during the tractor march in Delhi on Republic Day. This makes Haryana the third BJP-ruled state to pursue cases against these persons over allegedly spreading false information on social media.
Besides Mr Sardesai of the India Today Group and Ms Pande of National Herald, Zafar Aga of Qaumi Awaz and Paresh Nath and Vinod K Jose of The Caravan, too, have been named in the FIR filed on Thursday by the Gurugram Cyber Cell. The case has been registered under Sections 124 A, 153 A, 153 B, 505 (2), and 120 B and the probe is on, the police have said.
This action was taken on the basis of a complaint filed by one Mahabir Singh, a resident of Jharsa, Gurugram. Mr Singh said the actions of those named in the case have caused "grave prejudice to the security of the nation". They allegedly posted "malafide, defamatory, false, misleading, and instigating tweets" in the run up to the January 26 violence.
Multiple police cases have been filed in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, too, against the same set of accused in connection with Republic Day incidents. All of them face charges, including sedition, criminal conspiracy, and promoting enmity under the Indian Penal Code.
Responding to the filing of cases, the Editors' Guild released a statement that 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."
The tractor rally was allowed to start after the Republic Day parade in the national capital was over. However, it soon descended into lawlessness after the farmers broke through barricades before time and changed the agreed route.