Guwahati: The Editors Guild of India (EGi) has aired its concerns over filing of FIR against Scroll.in’s executive editor Supriya Sharma and its chief editor over a report on impact of lockdown in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Varanasi.
EGi called the move an overreaction. It further said, “The use of criminal provisions of the law against journalists have now become an unhealthy trend and despicable trend that has no place in any vibrant democracy. “
The guild respects all laws of land and also the rights of Mala Devi, the complainant to defend herself against acts of injustice. But, “the increasing frequency of such misuse of laws by the authorities is tantamount to shooting the messenger and destroying a key pillar of India’s democracy,” it added.
A report by Scroll.in, titled, ‘In Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown’, published on June 8 highlighted the plight of its residents. The story was nothing uncommon, apart from the fact that the village was adopted by PM Modi in 2018 under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, the model village scheme for members of Parliament.
In the report, Sharma had quoted Mala Devi. “In the interview, Mala told Scroll.in she was a domestic worker and experienced food distress during the lockdown since she did not have a ration card,” said Scroll.
“However, according to the FIR, Mala Devi in her complaint to the police alleged Sharma misrepresented her comments and identity. She claimed she was not a domestic worker, but worked as a sanitation worker at the Varanasi city municipality through “outsourcing”.
“During the lockdown, neither me or anyone in my family faced any problems,” the FIR quotes her. “By saying that me and children went hungry, Supriya Sharma had made fun of my poverty and caste,” reported Scroll.
Taking a stand, Scroll.in replied, “Scroll.in interviewed Mala in Domari village, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, on June 5, 2020. Her statements have accurately been reported in the article titled, ‘In Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown.’
Scroll.in stands by the article, which has been reported from the Prime Minister’s constituency. This FIR is an attempt to intimidate and silence independent journalism, reporting on conditions of vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 lockdown.”