New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India Monday urged the Uttar Pradesh government to withdraw cases filed against journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal for his report on a school in Mirzapur that was serving only rotis and salt to children as their mid-day meal.
The Guild has condemned the government’s action of filing an FIR under serious sections of criminal law and said it should “withdraw these cases forthwith and ensure that the journalist is not put to any further harm or harassment”.
“It is a cruel and classic case of shooting the messenger. It is precisely exposés such as these that show how valuable free and fearless journalists are to a democratic society,” the Guild said in the statement.
Jaiswal, village-head representative Rajkumar Pal and unidentified people have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharging duty), 193 (false evidence) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. Jaiswal and Pal have been accused of “maligning the image of the state government”.
The Guild said the government’s action was “shocking”.
“It is shocking that instead of taking action to fix what is wrong on the ground, the government has filed criminal cases against the journalist. Even if the government believes that his report is wrong, there are easy and conventional redresses available. Using the IPC and police is no way to respond to this,” said the statement.
The Guild has urged the UP government to “withdraw these cases forthwith and ensure that the journalist is not put to any further harm or harassment”.
Guild expresses concern over travel restriction on journalists
The Guild also expressed “grave concern over recent incidents of restrictions on the overseas travel of journalists”.
Referring to the case of journalist Gowhar Geelani, who works for a German media organisation and was last week denied travel permission, the Guild said, “The law does indeed give the government such powers but only in the rarest of rare cases and following due procedure and disclosure. There must be transparency in these decisions.”
Geelani, the author of Kashmir: Rage and Reason, was to catch a flight to Germany where he was to attend a media training programme. When he reached Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport Saturday, he was stopped from flying.
In its statement, the Guild urged the government “not to create a situation where the constitutionally and legally mandated freedoms of media representatives are compromised”.