Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Video Producer: Shohini Bose
A day after a case was filed by the Uttar Pradesh government against a journalist who made a video of the 'namak-roti' (salt and flatbread) being served to children as mid-day meal, over 100 journalists staged a protest on Tuesday, 3 September, at the Mirzapur Collectorate office, NDTV reported.
They said that Journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal has been targeted for doing his job.
"We are protesting because our reporter exposed how school children were being fed rotis and salt. The video he shot went viral, the district magistrate himself went to the spot and he said this was true. Is it wrong to expose to truth?" said Sanjay Dubey, district chief of Jansandesh Times to NDTV.
UP Basic Education Minister Satish Dwivedi also condemned the filing of FIR against the journalist. He told reporters on Monday, "We'll initiate a probe after getting complete information from our department and Mirzapur's police officer."
Jaiswal, village-head representative Rajkumar Pal and unidentified people have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharging duty), 193 (false evidence) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, a senior officer said.
The FIR was lodged on Saturday on the complaint of Mirzapur block education officer Prem Shankar Ram at Ahiraura police station.
According to the complaint, Jaiswal and Pal conspired and deliberately made the video in a well-planned manner and did "despicable work" of maligning the image of the state government by recording a video of school children being served salt and roti in mid-day meal.
The FIR states that Pal was aware that only rotis were cooked and vegetable was not cooked in the school, but "instead of arranging it", he called the journalist, who works in print media and "pressed him to run it" in electronic media.
"The journalist shot the video on his mobile and shared it to a electronic media agency," it said.
'CLASSIC CASE OF SHOOTING THE MESSENGER': EDITORS GUILD
In a statement on Monday, 2 September, the Editors Guild of India, condemned the FIR sections against the journalist and said that it was a “classic case of shooting the messenger”.
The guild urged the government to withdraw the cases and ensure that the journalist is not put through any other form of harassment.
“The issue has come to our notice and an inquiry was ordered in the issue. After the allegations of serving roti and salt were found true, two people Murari and Arvind Tripathi have been suspended and strict action will be taken further,” said District Magistrate, Mirzapur, Anurag Patel in a comment to CNN News18.
The video of students of the Siyur Primary School in Jamalpur block of Mirzapur district being served salt and roti in their mid-day meal had gone viral on social media on 22 August, triggering outrage and leading to the suspension of two teachers.
As per norms under the flagship nutrition scheme, pulses, rice, rotis and vegetables, along with fruits and milk on certain days, are to be served to school-going children to ensure they are receiving necessary nutrition.
The mid-day meal scheme is designed to provide a minimum of 450 calories per child per day, including at least 12 grams of protein per day. These meals are to be served to each child for at least 200 days a year.
SOCIAL MEDIA STANDS BY PAWAN
After the news of the FIR against Jaiswal broke, many on social media came out in his support. Several journalists including Neha Dixit and Rohini Singh tweeted criticising the FIR and sharing a video of Jaiswal, where he reiterates that he reported what he saw.
(With inputs from NDTV, IANS, PTI and CNN News18)