UP Police lodges FIR against The Wire, scribes for video report on Gareeb Nawaz Mosque demolition issue
“Adityanath govt does not believe in media freedom and is criminalising work of journalists who are reporting what is happening in the state,” The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan said
A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered by the Uttar Pradesh Police against news website, The Wire and its two journalists Seraj Ali and Mukul Chauhan who did a report on the Gareeb Nawaz Mosque demolition issue in Uttar Pradesh.
The FIR has been registered for offences under Sections 153, 153A, 120-B and section 501(1)b of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The FIR was registered based on a complaint filed by one Mahendra Singh alleging that the video report circulated widely on social media and other connected platforms was based on uncertain and baseless facts and it was an attempt to create distress between religious communities, Bar & Bench reported.
The Wire has called the Barabanki police’s charges “baseless”, accusing the UP government of “criminalising the work of journalists who are reporting what is happening in the state”.
“The video is about the Barabanki district administration’s demolition of a mosque located inside the premises of the Ramsnehi Ghat tehsil on May 17. In its demolition order, the district administration refused to describe it as a mosque, instead calling it an ‘illegal structure’,” said a report carried by The Wire.
The Gareeb Nawaz Al Maroof Mosque was registered with the UP Sunni Waqf Board, The Wire had reported.
The Waqf Board and All India Muslim Personal Board had described the district administration’s action as “illegal” and moved the Allahabad High Court, which issued notice on June 23.
According to The Indian Express, Barabanki district magistrate Adarsh Singh said in a statement on Thursday night that the video has “false and baseless information”.
“The video contains several wrong and baseless statements, including the one which says that the administration and police threw religious scriptures in drain and river. This is false. Nothing of this sort happened. With misinformation like this, The Wire is trying to spread animosity in society and disturbing communal harmony,” he said.
In a statement to the media on Thursday, Siddharth Varadarajan, The Wire’s founding editor, said, “This is the fourth FIR filed by the UP Police in the past 14 months against The Wire and/or its journalists and each of these cases is baseless. The Adityanath government does not believe in media freedom and is criminalising the work of journalists who are reporting what is happening in the state”.
“In Uttar Pradesh, politicians and anti-social elements can openly spew communal hatred and advocate violence, but the police never see these actions as a threat to communal harmony and law and order. But when journalists report the statements of people who allege wrongdoing on the part of the administration — in this case, the allegation is of the illegal demolition of a mosque — FIRs are immediately filed. The Wire is not going to be intimidated by these tactics,” he was quoted as saying.
A few days ago, the UP Police had registered an FIR against The Wire, social media platform Twitter and journalists Rana Ayyub and Saba Naqvi, Congress politicians Shama Mohamed, Salman Nizami and Maskoor Usmani and Alt news co-founder Mohammed Zubair among others for tweeting a video from Ghaziabad showing a Muslim man's beard being chopped off by some attackers.