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Journalist who exposed salt-roti meal in school booked by UP govt.

Days after he filmed children eating roti and salt in the mid-day meals served in a primary school in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, a local journalist was booked by police for trying to defame the government through a “conspiracy.”

Pawan Jaiswal, a print reporter with a Hindi daily, was charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and providing false evidence.

The FIR was lodged on the complaint of Prem Shankar Ram, Block Education Officer, Mirzapur. Along with the scribe, the police also booked Raj Kumar Pal, a representative of the village pradhan, who tipped off the journalist about the inferior quality of meals being served at the primary school in Jamalpur block.

Ironically, in the same three-page FIR, the administration admits that only roti and salt were cooked for the children at the school till noon on August 22, when the reporter filmed the episode. But it blamed Mr. Jaiswal and Mr. Pal of stitching up a conspiracy to defame the mid-day meal scheme and malign the state government.

Instead of arranging for the vegetables, Mr. Pal called a reporter, Mr. Jaiswal, to the school premises and asked him to shoot a video showing students being served only roti and salt, the administration alleged.

The government said Mr. Jaiswal not only shot the videos but also forwarded it to agency ANI following which it was made viral on social media.

The action against the reporter, however, is also contradicted by the stand taken by the administration after the issue came to light last month. District Magistrate Anurag Patel had found the complaints to be true, after holding two independent probes at the local level.

“Both reports showed that it was true that the students were being fed roti and salt,” Mr. Patel had said, as he announced the suspension of the teacher-in-charge and the gram panchayat supervisor for the lapse.

Mr. Jaiswal stuck to his guns and said he had reported what he saw on August 22 at the primary school. “I saw at 12:07 minutes that the children were eating salt and roti,” he said referring to his footage.

Mr. Jaiswal also said that after he received information about the mid-day meal, he had even brought it to the notice of the assistant basic siksha adhikari Brijesh Kumar Singh before heading out to the school.

He says the district administration lodged criminal cases against him as the issue had become a “high-profile” one causing heavy embarrassment to be administration.

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Printable version | May 1, 2021 7:27:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/journalist-who-exposed-salt-roti-meal-in-school-booked-by-up-govt/article29320560.ece

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