After The Wire has shown the rising atrocities of independent journalism in the country which reported arrest and threatening of 55 Indian journalists for reporting COVID-19, there is a new fold to the predicament of the journalists.
In a survey of the results of the country lockdown to counter coronavirus in a constituency of the Prime Minister, the Uttar Pradesh Police has reported a First Information report against Scroll.in executive editor, Supriya Sharma. The case comprises, among others, sections related to the 1989 Act on the Prevention of Atrocities, Scheduled Caste, and Scheduled Tribe.
The police charged Sharma under sections 501 and 269 of the Indian Penal Code, according to an initial information report submitted on June 13 in Varanasi’s Rampur police station. Although the former deals with the printing of ‘defamation,’ the latter concerns ‘a neglectful act that could spread disease infection that is harmful.
The police also called the FIR “editor in chief” of Scroll.in.
The police, according to the FIR, responded to a complaint lodged by Mala Devi, resident of Domari Varanasi. Within the framework of a series from Varanasi on the lockdown impact to contain coronavirus propagation, Sharma had interviewed Mala. Under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana Domari village was adopted by the Prime Minister. Mala told Scroll.in in this interview that she was a household worker and had food distress while she was locked down as she had no ration card.
Nonetheless, according to the FIR, Mala Devi alleged Sharma misrepresented her statements and name in her complaint to police. She claimed that she was not a domestic worker, but by “outsourcing” she worked as a sanitation worker in the municipality of Varanasi
“Neither I nor anyone in my family faced any issues during the lockout,” the FIR quotes her. “Supriya Sharma had made fun of my deprivation and caste by saying that I and the children were going hungry.”
‘In Domari, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Scroll.in interviewed Mala, 5 June 2020. Her statements have been reported accurately in the article ‘The people were hungry during lock-down in the village of Varanasi, adopted by Prime Minister Modi.’
The article, reported from the constituency of the Prime Minister, stands for Scroll.in. This FIR seeks to suppress and bully investigative media by focusing on vulnerable communities during the lock-out procedures of Covid-19.