Editors’ guild, journalist unions protest at PCI
New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Saturday became the fifth one to file a case against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists for allegedly sharing unverified news about a farmer’s death on January 26 in Delhi.
Besides Tharoor, the police named India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, National Herald’s senior consulting editor Mrinal Pande, Qaumi Awaz editor Zafar Agha, The Caravan magazine’s editor and founder Paresh Nath, The Caravan editor Anant Nath and its executive editor Vinod K Jose.
However, unlike the other states, the first information report filed by the Delhi Police does not include charges of sedition.
The FIR was lodged on a complaint by advocate Chiranjiv Kumar, a central government lawyer at the Delhi High Court, according to The Indian Express. Kumar’s complaint said that the accused spread fake news about a farmer’s death in Delhi on January 26 by blaming the Delhi Police.
The Uttar Pradesh Police was the first to file an FIR against the seven in Noida that includes charges of sedition, followed by a similar case filed by the police in Madhya Pradesh. Other FIRs were registered in Gurugram and Bengaluru on Friday and in Noida on Thursday.
The FIRs were registered despite criticism from several media bodies. The Editors Guild of India described the action as a concerted attempt to “stifle and harass” media. On Saturday, journalists also assembled at the Press Club of India in Delhi to protest against the FIRs. The meeting was organised by a number of media bodies, including the Editors Guild of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Delhi Union of Journalists, and Indian Journalists Union.
“Today the atmosphere is such, it’s so poisonous, so toxic that anyone who wants to go to the court perhaps is a fool,” Press Club of India President Anand Sahay told PTI. “You know what the result is going to be. Even during the emergency, rules against journalists were not so harsh, I don’t recall anybody going in for sedition.”
Delhi Union of Journalists SK Pande also claimed that the current situation was like an “undeclared emergency”. “What is happening today is a situation which is an undeclared emergency,” he told the news agency. “People have seen what the emergency was, we are heading for something worse, where if you raise the voice against the powers that are you will be targeted whether through sedition, or filing of FIRs so that you lose desire to fight or feel compelled to call it a day.”