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Booked for promoting communal disharmony: Haryana journalists up in arms over FIR against news portal founder

Rajesh Kundu, who runs a news portal -- ‘The Ink’ -- and also works for a TV channel from Hisar, was booked Friday over a post on Facebook that was also shared through WhatsApp.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
April 10, 2021 11:38:05 pm
Booked for promoting communal disharmony: Haryana journalists up in arms over FIR against news portal founderThe FIR was lodged against Kundu under Sections 153A (promoting communal disharmony) and 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the IPC and Section 66 F (cyber terrorism) of the IT Act, 2000.

Haryana journalists on Saturday lodged a strong protest against Hisar police’s move to book a local journalist under charges of “cyber terrorism” and “promoting communal disharmony” over alleged messages that he posted over social media platforms.

Rajesh Kundu, who runs a news portal — ‘The Ink’ — and also works for a TV channel from Hisar, was booked Friday over a post on Facebook that was also shared through WhatsApp. Kundu has extensively covered the ongoing farmer agitation by visiting several villages of Haryana and borders of Delhi where thousands of farmers are sitting on dharna against three contentious farm laws for the past four months.

The FIR was lodged against Kundu under Sections 153A (promoting communal disharmony) and 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the IPC and Section 66 F (cyber terrorism) of the IT Act, 2000.

On Saturday, the opposition too joined journalists in criticising the government stating “the journalists can’t be suppressed with these tactics”.

The FIR against Kundu was lodged on the complaint of a policeman Vikram, who is a police spokesperson in Hisar. In his complaint, Vikram has referred to a post in which Kundu allegedly states that “a script has been prepared for caste-related violence” in Hisar.

The policeman said that Kundu has shared this post on Facebook too alleging that Kundu has worked to “incite common men” while apprehending “adverse impact of post on national integrity”.

However, in a statement, Kundu has claimed that “I performed my duty of a responsible citizen and journalist by sharing a post regarding my apprehension of violence on the occasion of B R Amdekar Jayanti on April 14 on the basis of information received through sources.”

“With this post, I just wanted to alert the people so that such a situation can be averted,” said Kundu. Urging cancelation of the case immediately, Kundu stated there seems “misinterpretation of his post by the authorities”.

Hisar SP Balwan Singh Rana told The Indian Express that police found the social media post of Kundu as “offensive”. “The matter is under investigation,” he added.

Meanwhile, in different towns of Haryana, journalists submitted memorandums to the authorities while expressing resentment over registration of a case against Kundu.

In Uklana, say sources, the journalists and social activists even staged a protest at the local police station complex. In a memorandum submitted to the authorities in Hisar, the journalists claimed the case against Kundu was not in accordance with the provisions of law as he simply performed his duty of a citizen by sharing vital information to the public well in advance. They have also urged the authorities to cancel the case within 48 hours.

Haryana Union of Working Journalists vice president Anil Sharma announced that journalists will stage a dharna if the case is not withdrawn soon.

Chandigarh Press Club General Secretary Saurbah Duggal has also condemned the move stating “Kundu was vocal in raising the farmers’ voice during the ongoing agitation against three farm laws”.

Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “When the government could not break the ongoing farmer agitation, it lodged an FIR against journalist Rajesh Kundu, who has become a voice of the farmers. Neither this voice can be suppressed nor the farmer agitation.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja has urged Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to cancel the case.

Congress leader Kiran Choudhry, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Singh Hooda and INLD leader Abhay Chautala has also criticised the government for the FIR against the journalist.

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