A journalist in Rajasthan’s Pali district has been booked in a defamation case after he questioned and allegedly used offensive language against local police over the death of a labour leader in judicial custody.
Veerendra Rajpurohit, runs News 30 Rajasthan, “a web channel”, and is associated with some vernacular newspapers. He told The Indian Express that he is now in “hiding”.
The FIR has been lodged on the basis of a complaint by Pali’s Kotwali SHO Gautam Jain.
On May 13, a dispute broke out between labourers and administration of Pali-based Maharaja Shree Umaid Mills Limited, a textile mill, over wages. When police arrived, the labourers allegedly started stone-pelting. Twenty-two people, including labour leader Ramnath Singh (68), were arrested, booked and sent to judicial custody. Singh was later admitted to a hospital where he died.
Rajpurohit claimed that a constable, who allegedly hit Singh, was later suspended.
Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Gulab Chand Kataria and state BJP president Satish Poonia have written to the DGP, demanding that an FIR for murder be lodged in connection with Singh’s death.
According to the FIR against Rajpurohit, the journalist sent a WhatsApp message to SHO Jain on May 26 in which he called Pali SP Rahul Katakey “insensitive” and “arrogant”.
He said in the message, which has been quoted in the FIR, that he had informed the SP about Singh being “assaulted by a baseball bat” but the “SP, a public servant, blocked my number”. Rajpurohit alleged that the SP’s role in the matter was “suspicious” and used “offensive words” against him and local police, the FIR states.
The FIR against Rajpurohit has been filed under IPC sections 388 (extortion), 116 (abetment of offence punishable with imprisonment), 500 (defamation), 501 (printing material known to be defamatory), 506 (criminal intimidation) and a section of IT Act.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rajpurohit said, “I raised the matter of the labour leader’s death, so police are targeting me and have wrongly lodged an FIR against me.”
He said “local BJP leaders were managed”. “But I couldn’t be managed and continued to raise the issue. Hence, they are targeting me,” he said, adding that he is now in “hiding”.
SP Katakey said, “An FIR was registered against Veerendra Rajpurohit… you can see for yourself whether an FIR needs to be registered when such language is used against an IPS officer.” He said once the contents of the FIR are perused, “you will understand the kind of language being used and whether we appropriately took legal action or not”.
Meanwhile, Singh’s son Brijmohan Singh Friday submitted a complaint with IG, Jodhpur Range, seeking registration of a case against the SP and other police officers over Singh’s death.
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