FIR against journalist, chief editor of news portal for ‘misreporting’

Booked for spreading fake news about a woman in village adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

June 18, 2020 10:14 pm | Updated 11:49 pm IST - LUCKNOW

Photo: Twitter/@Uppolice

Photo: Twitter/@Uppolice

A Delhi-based journalist working for news portal was booked under various charges, including the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act, and an FIR was lodged on June 13 for allegedly misreporting about the poverty of a Dalit woman in a village adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi, police said on Thursday.

Chief editor of was also named in the FIR. Sections 269 and 501 (printing matter that is defamatory) of IPC were invoked, along with relevant Sections of the SC/ST Act.

Journalist Supriya Sharma was booked in connection with a piece published on June 8 titled, ‘In Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown.’ The story was about Domari village in the high-profile constituency.

Ramnagar police station in-charge N.K. Singh said, “She had published the photo of a woman, Mala Devi, and made fun of her poverty, that she did not get food. Ms. Devi said there was nothing of this sort and submitted a complaint,” the officer told The Hindu .

Circle Officer Kotwali Varanasi Pradeep Singh Chandel, who is probing the case, confirmed that an FIR had been registered on charges of spreading fake news.

In her police complaint, Ms. Devi said she works as a Safai karmachari in Nagar Nigam Varanasi through outsourcing and that her mother was also receiving pension from the same department.

She said she told the journalist that she and her family did not face any shortage of food during the outsourcing from the municipal corporation. She alleged that Ms. Sharma published “lies” about her that she only got “ chai and roti ” to eat and had to sweep and wash utensils for a living.

“Supriya Sharma has mocked my poverty and caste by writing that I and my elders went hungry during the lockdown. This has caused me mental hurt and damaged my prestige in society,” said Ms. Devi.

Ms. Sharma said she would comment after she got a copy of the FIR. said it stood by the the article. “This FIR is an attempt to intimidate and silence independent journalism, reporting on conditions of vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 lockdown,” the portal said in a statement.

“ 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,’ ” it added.

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