Several senior Indian journalists accused of being annoyed by their reports and online publication of farmers’ protests last week, which sparked criticism of lawsuits from media associations.
The cases reported to police in at least five states against journalists, including Rajdip Sardesay. He is the leading presenter of India Today, and Vinod Jose, editor in chief of Caravan magazine.
The state court case accuses journalists of provoking violence during a farmer protest at New Delhi’s Red Fort. They do it on January 26 via fake Twitter posts and reports that police have killed a protester.
Tens of thousands of farmers have settled on the outskirts of the capital for more than two months. They are calling for the repeal of agricultural laws which will benefit private buyers at the expense of producers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government said reforms in the agricultural sector would provide opportunities for farmers.
Protests erupted on January 26 when farmers stormed the historic Red Fort complex, killing one protester and injuring hundreds.
An eyewitness told media at the time the protester died when the tractor he driving overturned and destroyed it, but he was also reported to have shot. Police, who fired tear gas during the day, denied firing it.
“The accused tried to provoke the protesters for their political and personal gain by spreading false and misleading information online,” said the complaint made in Uttar Pradesh state which repeated the language of the statement.
Jose said his local journalists heard from a witness and relatives of the deceased that he had shot. “This is an attack on free and independent reporting … The government only wants an official version published,” he said in a statement.
Sardesai’s lawyers did not immediately comment when contacted on Monday.
As senior Indian journalists accused by government, The Indian Editors’ Guild, the Indian Press Club and several other journalist groups condemned the police complaint. Also branded it as a tactic of intimidation aimed at suppressing the media.
Anand Sahai, India’s press club, said it was no coincidence that most cases had reported in states of Modi’s BJP.
The club said “preliminary reports” stated that the protester had been shot, although it later emerged that he was killed when his tractor capsized.
“In an interesting story, things change regularly. Therefore, reporting reflects circumstances. It is a criminal offense to attribute this to motivated reporting,” the club said in a statement on Friday.
Activists say press freedom has shrunk under Modi’s rule, marked by attacks and intimidation against journalists. The government denies intimidating the press.
India fell two spots to 142 in last year’s Reporters Without Borders annual press freedom ranking, which noted “persistent violations of press freedom, including police violence against journalists” and increased “pressure on the media.” government “.
The Indian Editors’ Guild, which represents the newspaper, said it was concerned that police complaints had filed under 10 different legal provisions, including rioting, promoting public disharmony and insulting religious beliefs.