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HomeIndiaJournalist behind story of Dalits eating grass in Varanasi district gets notice

Journalist behind story of Dalits eating grass in Varanasi district gets notice

District administration says report is fabricated, DM Kaushal Raj Sharma says Dalits eating ‘wild pulses’, but journalist stands by story.

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Lucknow: The Varanasi District Magistrate (DM) Kaushal Raj Sharma has sent a showcause notice to a journalist and his editor-in-chief after their local daily carried a report claiming that members of the Musahar community were surviving on grass at a village in the district.

The notice sent to the journalist | special arrangement
The notice sent to the journalist | special arrangement

The report, by journalists Vijay Vineet and Manish Mishra, had been published on 26 March in the local daily Janadesh Times, about the plight of residents at Koiripur village in Varanasi district, which falls under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, ever since the lockdown was announced Tuesday. It was accompanied by photographs of children eating grass that have since been widely shared on social media.

The notice has now been issued to Vineet and the paper’s Editor-in-Chief Subhash Rai, calling on them to publish a denial of the report.

In the notice, DM Kaushal Raj Sharma states that he had got the matter investigated by an ADM-level officer and established that the report was fabricated one. He added that the Dalits are not eating grass but ankari dal (wild pulses) that grow along with wheat in the fields. 

Sharma told the local media that the Dalits were eating green gram too, which makes it a nutritious meal. He also said the local daily “sensationalised a trivial issue”. He circulated a photograph of himself and his son with a bundle of the ‘ankari grass’.

Varanasi DM Kaushal Raj Sharma and his son with the grass | special arrangement
Varanasi DM Kaushal Raj Sharma and his son with the grass | special arrangement

This is the second such instance of an UP administration going after a journalist over a story. Last year, an FIR was lodged against a journalist who had exposed flaws in mid-day meal scheme in Mirzapur district.

News is real, will not back down: journalist

In conversation with ThePrint, journalist Vijay Vineet stood by his report. 

“I have all the photos and videos related to the report, which I have sent to the DM. The condition of Musahars in Koiripur village has been very poor for the last three to four days,” Vineet said. “Due to the lockdown they are unable to go anywhere and have no money either.”

He said that the Musahars showed him the empty utensils in their homes of which he has videos. He claimed that the report had created an impact as the local administration reached the village on the same day and quickly arranged food for the Musahar families. Villagers from the nearby villages have also started helping them, he said. .

Also read: Meet the Pune woman behind the first Indian Covid-19 testing kits

Congress questions need for the notice

Congress state president Ajay Lallu has also raised the matter. In a statement,  Lallu criticized the state administration.

“If someone is eating ankari grass, then the Uttar Pradesh government and its administration should be ashamed and DM Kaushal Raj Sharma should immediately apologise for his conduct,” the statement reads.

Also read: OPDs shut, surgeries put off: Private hospitals write to finance minister for emergency fund

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  1. When we are, as one nation, fighting against Covid _ 19, please, for the sake of GOD, do not publish silly matter (s) and politicise it. When we overcome the pandemic we can have a special session in Parliament.

    • Dear sir,
      How it will be a silly when their belly (stomach) is full of empty and eating other than normal food. Starvation is also part of Corona Pandemic. Always better to stop the lose of lives at any cost .

  2. Dear sir, I feel most danger to our nation is politicians and media personnel. Politicians grumble in Parliament and Assembly but can not consensus for nations progress and harmony. On other hand media persons many broadcast fake news and gullible people of country trust them. My appeal to both of you why not if such dire poverty are observed join hand with govt. and try to supply immediate relief measures rather barking each other without any sense. Let us join hand together and make a Ram Rajya.

  3. Ye Sach ke jyada kreeb h, kmobesh yhi situation m oon dalito ki dekhta hu Jo lockdown ke chalte bhi 400 gharo ki mahilayo me se 300 subah hote hi ‘aalu,. Chugne kheto me jati h, ye sachai h mere gaon ki, or police tou Ghar ke gate pr pitkar ja rhi h.

  4. Its type of peas grows in jungle…marshy land……I used to eat during my childhood. Its very much tasty…but I am sure about nutrition in it.

    You can find these in wheat also.

  5. Journalist seems to be using ghisa pita formula of freedom of press to get famous with wild imaginative story

  6. It’s ok to have photoshoot with some grass on the table inside an AC room. But can that DM and his son rely on ankari dal as daily diet ?

  7. It’s ok to have photoshoot with some grass on table in AC room. But can that DM and his son rely on ankari dal as daily diet ?

  8. Dalits are at the receiving end not only in India but anywhere in the world. Except for some Dalits who are lucky to be in urban areas they are in a no win situation. Bulk of the marginalised people trekking back from cities like new Delhi to UP and Bihar belong to the Dalit category or Muslims. Their votes are fragmented and they are of no use to BJP.
    They are in a no win situation. Well fed DMs can pose for pictures with some greens. Are not mushers supposed to eat rats according to Manusmriti?

  9. If the report is true, and it looks like it is, the poor should be helped. The reporters should be praised.

  10. Well, let us play fair; looks like the journo has been quite enterprising on this occasion. There is nothing to suggest, from the picture at least (unless they have evidence to support otherwise) that the children, driven by extreme hunger, were eating grass. To me it looks the village kids just got together and were searching for some grains within the grass. That is definitely not to undermine the pitiable social and economic conditions which these poor people have been pushed in to. Still, if the report ended up getting them a few days’ meal, the journo deserves a thank you note, not a notice from the law enforcement morons.

  11. Well fed upper castes cannot understand the plight of the poor dalits. Need separate states for dalits where they can rule themselves

  12. These fake news fabricators should be thrown in jail without any mercy. These are the worst kind of internal enemies – just follow the money trail to see which foreign funded NGO or which political party is funding this fake news campaign. As a kid growing up in rural India, my friends and I used to roam the nearby fields eating wild green grams that used to grow there because they were tasty and it was a fun activity. A certain variety of these grams were actually grown by the farmers in their fields between the main crops to replenish the nutrients in the ground. It is now clear that the “breaking India” forces have declared an open war against India and hindus. If we don’t fight back, our grandchildren will be either forced to convert or killed. We are seeing this open war in the Shaheen baghs and jamia milias of the country.

  13. Just quarantine the jerno and his editor. Under lockdown some jernos have no news to share. They are fabricating news to run their agenda shop.

    • AK Dev, why do you presume the journalist made up the story? If it was a state ruled by a party other than yours, you would believe the journalist wouldn’t you? That’s why you are scum because you view everything through a narrow prism.

  14. There have been similar stories in the past, children eating rotis or rice with salt, as part of their nutritious midday school meal, with the messenger being troubled for the message. For me, sitting in Bombay, having already seen the Taj Mahal, it does not matter a plate of poori aaloo who the CM of UP is. However, one feels heartbroken that the fate of 200 million people, including many of the poorest Indians, is in Shri Ajay Bisht’s hands.

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