Supriya Sharma has been booked under Sections 501 and 269 of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

FIR against Supriya Sharma of Scrollin
news Controversy Friday, June 19, 2020 - 09:24

The Uttar Pradesh police have registered a First Information Report against Scroll.in’s Executive Editor Supriya Sharma. The FIR is based on a report she had done in a village adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

The complaint was filed by Mala Devi, a woman from Domari village in Varanasi constituency, who is quoted in the article.

The FIR charged Supriya under Section 501 (Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code and under sections of the SC/ST (Preventions of Atrocities Act).

In the article, Mala, a mother of five, is reported to be a domestic worker whose employers were not paying her during the lockdown, and often had to go to sleep after eating just tea and rotis. The report said that her mother had a ration card, and she did not.

In her complaint, Mala Devi alleges that the journalist misquoted her, and that she was not a domestic help but worked as a sanitation worker with Varanasi city municipality through outsourcing.

She also said none of her family members faced any problem during the lockdown.

“By writing that me and my children were hungry during the lockdown, my poverty and my caste have been mocked by Supriya Sharma, which has caused me mental anguish and my reputation in society has been harmed,” the FIR states.

Scroll.in’s Chief Editor, Naresh Fernandes, has also been named in the FIR.

In a statement, Scroll.in said it stands by the article.

“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.”

Supriya is a two-time Ramnath Goenka award winner, as well as a recipient of the Chameli Devi Outstanding Woman Journalist award for 2014-15

The FIR was slammed by many online, and is now an addition to a long list of complaints filed against journalists in the country, and specifically, in Uttar Pradesh.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that the UP police should immediately drop the criminal investigation, and cease legally harassing members of the press for their work

“Launching a criminal investigation into a journalist for her work in the prime minister’s parliamentary constituency is a clear intimidation tactic and sends a chilling message to journalists across the country,” said Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher in New York.

Reporters Sans Frontiers, known as Reporters Without Borders said that it “condemns in the strongest terms this blatant attempt to intimidate one of India's most resilient reporters.”

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