Conspiracy case against journalist for video of children having bread with salt

A video of school students being served just salt and bread as part of mid day meal has now landed a local reporter in trouble. UP Govt has filed a complaint against him for defaming the Yogi Govt

Photo courtesy: socail media
Photo courtesy: socail media

Biswajeet Banerjee

The Mirzapur administration has filed a FIR against a print journalist for shooting and circulating a video of children being served `salt and roti’ as mid-day meal in a school. Three people including the journalist Pawan Jaiswal have been charged with cheating and criminal conspiracy to defame the Uttar Pradesh Government and the midday meal scheme.

The viral video had attracted widespread outrage and criticism. The FIR, lodged on Saturday, however accuses the journalist of entering into a conspiracy with a representative of the village head.

The FIR alleges that the school had already paid the vegetable vendor in advance for the supply of vegetables. But vegetables were not collected that day because the cook failed to turn up. The village headman’s representative, who knew that the cook had not turned up till Noon, called Jaiswal and asked him to shoot the video of children being served flat bread and salt.

The FIR does not, however, mention how the flat bread was arranged in the absence of the cook.

When the video went viral, District magistrate Anurag Patel had suspended ABSA Brijesh Singh and ordered transfer of the BSA out of the district for dereliction of duty. At that time he had called the incident a blot on civilised society.

The video showed children sitting on the floor of the school corridor and two ladies distributing roti and salt to them. It went on to show them eating the bread with salt. Incidentally the video was shot under a chart of mid-day meal which highlighted the menu.

As per rules, students are expected to be served nutritious food including pulses, rice, rotis and vegetables. Fruits and milk are included on certain days, according to the chart.

The mid-day meal charter says that the scheme is designed to provide a minimum of 450 calories to each child every day, which should also include at least 12 grams of protein.

The FIR says that video was shot by the print journalist who passed it on to ANI under the directions of the Gram Pradhan. The FIR also says that Gram Pradhan should have arranged for vegetables as roti was cooked in the school. Instead of doing that the representative of Gram Pradhan Rajkumar Pal called a reporter and shot the video and made it viral in social media.

“This was done with a malafide intention to malign the image of Yogi government,” an official said and claimed that the Pradhan of the said Gram Sabha owed allegiance to an opposition party.

According to the UP government, it has provided mid-day meals in more than 1.5 lakh primary and middle schools across the state, as of December 2018.

The incident has invited condemnation from all quarters. Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted on August 23 to say that such treatment of children in school is highly deplorable.

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Published: 02 Sep 2019, 12:49 PM