The Madhya Pradesh Police on Saturday booked three journalists hailing from Bhind on charge of airing “misleading and false” information while reporting about a man who took his unwell father to hospital on a handcart as ambulances were allegedly unavailable.
Anil Sharma from News18, Kunjbihari Kourav from Patrika, and N.K. Bhatele from Lalluram.com were charged under the sections of the Indian Penal Code related to cheating and causing public mischief and the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2008.
The police took action three days after the news item about one Hari Singh was aired. In his interaction with the media, Mr. Singh purportedly said that despite trying multiple times, he could not get through any ambulance service provider and was left with no choice but to use the handcart.
The video was shared on social media and various agencies and portals covered the news.
Taking cognisance of the matter, District Collector Satish Kumar ordered a probe.
The probe team found the news to be misleading and false and claimed that the family in question had been getting benefits of all government-run schemes.
The first information report was subsequently registered based on a complaint filed by Dr. Rajiv Kourav, the medical officer of the Daboh Community Health Centre.
“I stand by my report. The family has been pressurised by the administration to give statements against us,” said Mr. Sharma.
A short clip in which Mr. Singh is heard saying that a group of government officials visited his house and threatened that he would stop receiving the benefits was also shared on social media on Sunday.
The clip, however, does not establish if the threat was made in lieu of making false allegations against the journalists, as they claim.
The family does not own a mobile phone and the one they claim they had used to call an ambulance belonged to someone else.
Superintendent of Police, Bhind, Shailendra Singh Chauhan, was not available for a comment on these allegations.