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Salt-roti midday meal: Protest over case against journalist, UP govt to examine FIR

The video of students of being served salt and roti in their midday meal at a government-run primary school in Mirzapur district had gone viral on social media on August 22, triggering widespread outrage and leading to the suspension of two teachers.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 3, 2019 8:10:09 pm
mid-day meal, substandard mid-day meal, UP police, mid-day meal reporter, indian express The Mirzapur district authorities have ordered a probe and suspended a teacher associated with the incident. (Source: ANI)

A day after Uttar Pradesh Police lodged a case against a journalist who recorded a video of school children being served salt and roti as midday meal last month, the Yogi Adityanath government said on Tuesday it would examine the FIR.

“Action has been initiated against all those found prima facie guilty in the entire matter. As far as the FIR is concerned, we are getting it examined,” PTI quoted state government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma as saying.

The energy minister was responding to questions in Lucknow after a briefing of the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Meanwhile, media persons in Mirzapur held a protest at the district collectorate on Tuesday over lodging of the FIR against the journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal, PTI reported. A delegation of 25 reporters met Vindhyachal Divisional Commissioner Anand Kumar Singh and demanded that the case against the journalist be withdrawn.

“We want the entire episode be investigated. The divisional commissioner said he will seek a report in this regard from the district magistrate and act accordingly,” PTI quoted Mirzapur Press Club secretary Ajay Shankar Gupta as saying.

When confronted by the reporters, District Magistrate Anurag Patel said it was not the way to report the incident and the journalist could have clicked a photograph instead.

“One person was calling another and saying, ‘I am making a video (and) I will make it viral. You help me in making this video go viral’.

“You are a print-media journalist. You could have clicked a photograph if you had felt that something wrong is taking place and publish it,” PTI quoted the official as saying. “But he did not do this, and hence, his role seems to be suspicious.”

Patel said it seemed that the journalist was involved in a criminal conspiracy and therefore a case was registered against him.

The police had lodged a case on Monday against journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal and a representative of a village head, Rajkumar Pal, for allegedly conspiring and deliberately recording the video in a well-planned manner to malign the state government. The police said that Jaiswal and Pal have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharging duty), 193 (false evidence) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC.

On Monday, Basic Education Minister Satish Dwivedi said the action against the journalist for merely exposing corruption and highlighting reality should not have been taken. The complaint stated that Pal was aware that only rotis were cooked and vegetable was not cooked in the Siur primary school in Jamalpur block.

“Instead of arranging it”, Pal called Jaiswal and “pressed him to run it” on the electronic media, according to the complaint lodged by Mirzapur block education officer Prem Shankar Ram at the Ahraura police station on Saturday.

Jaiswal, however, had denied the allegations. “This is against journalism. You can see the news and verify it,” he had told a television channel.

The video of students being served salt and roti in their midday meal at a government-run primary school in Mirzapur district had surfaced on social media, last month, on August 22, triggering widespread outrage and leading to the suspension of two teachers.

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