The Barabanki police have fired a first information report (FIR) against online news media organisation, The Wire, for allegedly inciting communal unrest over its video documentary on the demolition of a mosque by district administration. Seraj Ali and Mukul S. Chauhan, journalists with The Wire, and two others, Mohammad Naeem and Mohammad Anees, have been named in the FIR.
The Barabanki district administration, in May, had demolished the mosque, located on the Ramsnehi Ghat Tehsil premises, citing ‘illegal structure’. The UP Sunni Waqf Board, under which the mosque is registered, termed the district administration’s action illegal and moved the Allahabad High Court. The matter is pending in the High Court now.
The Wire termed the charges baseless and accused the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government of disrupting the work of journalists for depicting real events happening in the state of UP.
Adarsh Singh, Barabanki District Magistrate, in his statement on June 24, said, “On June 23, the online news portal, The Wire, shared a video documentary about the Ramsnehi Ghat Tehsil premises on their Twitter handle. In the documentary, they have shown false and baseless information. The video contains several wrong and baseless statements, including the one which says that the administration and police threw religious scriptures in drain and river. This is false. Nothing of this sort happened. With misinformation like this, The Wire is trying to spread animosity in society and disturbing communal harmony.”
Online news portal ' THE WIRE' द्वारा रामसनेहीघाट जनपद बाराबंकी के तहसील परिसर से संबंधित निराधार और असत्य तथ्यों पर आधरित वीडियो documentary शेयर करने वालों के विरुद्ध थाना रामसनेहीघाट #barabankipolice द्वारा की गई विधिक कार्यवाही।#UPPolice@Uppolice https://t.co/FWnsxXLdIa pic.twitter.com/2u6nqVg2r8
— Barabanki Police (@Barabankipolice) June 24, 2021
Yamuna Prasad, Superintendent of Barabanki Police, said that Mohammad Naeem, who was in the documentary, made false claims about religious books being thrown in the river and drain.
“The complaint was lodged by a police officer, based on which an FIR has been lodged. Further action is underway,” Prasad added.
Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding editor of The Wire, said: “This is the fourth FIR filed by the UP Police in the past 14 months against The Wire and/or its journalists and each of these cases is baseless. The Adityanath government does not believe in media freedom and is criminalising the work of journalists who are reporting what is happening in the state.”
“In UP, politicians and anti-social elements can openly spew communal hatred and advocate violence, but the police never see these actions as a threat to communal harmony and law and order. But when journalists report the statements of people who allege wrongdoing on the part of the administration — in this case, the allegation is of the illegal demolition of a mosque — FIRs are immediately filed. The Wire is not going to be intimidated by these tactics,” he added.
The UP government had also issued an FIR against The Wire in the recent past, accusing them of disturbing communal harmony in their video showing the beating of a Muslim man.