A FIR has been lodged with the UP Police against Supriya Sharma, Executive Editor of Scroll.in, in connection to a report published by her on the debilitating state of affairs in the Prime Minister's constituency, Varanasi, during the lockdown, LiveLaw.in has reported.
The FIR has been lodged at the Ramnagar Police Station by Mala Devi, a resident of Varanasi's Domari village, who has complained that Sharma misrepresented her statements and made false claims in her report.
Accordingly, the police have registered a case under Sections 501 (Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease danger ous to life) of IPC, along with relevant provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
In her report titled 'In Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown' Sharma had quoted Mala, an alleged domestic worker, of having faced extreme hardship, including lack of food or ration during the lockdown.
As per the FIR dated June 13 however, Mala Devi has claimed that she is not a domestic worker and that her comments have been misrepresented by the Executive Editor.
She claims that she is a sanitation worker at the Varanasi city municipality through outsourcing and she did not face any distress during the lockdown, and had access to food.
Recalling her interview with Sharma, Mala Devi said, "She asked me about the lockdown; I told her neither me or anyone in my family faced any problems."
In the FIR thus, Mala Devi says, "By saying that me and children went hungry, Supriya Sharma has made fun of my poverty and my caste. She has hurt my sentiments and my reputation in the society."
She has thus sought for registration of an FIR against both Sharma and against Editor in Chief of Scroll.in
The Scroll.in has however claimed that Mala Devi's comments were reported "accurately" and that the FIR is an attempt to "intimidate and silence" independent journalism on conditions of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 lockdown.
"Scroll.in interviewed Mala in Domari village, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, on June 5, 2020. Her statements have accurately been reported in the article titled, 'In Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown.'
Scroll.in stands by the article, which has been reported from the Prime Minister's constituency. This FIR is an attempt to intimidate and silence independent journalism, reporting on conditions of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 lockdown," Scroll Editorial said in a statement published in the website.