Those named in the FIR gave "provocative" statements in the video that spread "prejudiced, misleading and untrue" information, police said.

White walls and green doors at the Barabanki Mosque in Uttar PradeshScreengrab/ The Wire
news Media Friday, June 25, 2021 - 15:13

The Uttar Pradesh Police has filed an FIR against news portal The Wire, its two journalists and two others over a video on the demolition of a mosque in Barabanki which, the administration said, was built illegally. The case has been registered against journalists Siraj Ali and Mukul S Chauhan, and two others — Mohammad Anees and Mohammad Naeem — who gave "provocative" statements in thevideo that spread "prejudiced, misleading and untrue" information, police said on Friday, June 25. The Barabanki administration had demolished the mosque on May 17, terming it an illegally constructed building and attributed its claim to an April 2 order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. The mosque was located adjacent to the tehsil premises and opposite the Sub Divisional Magistrate's residence.

A video related to the Ramsanehi Ghat tehsil complex was shared by news portal The Wire on its Twitter handle on June 23 in which "baseless" claims have been made, Superintendent of Police Yamuna Prasad said. "A case has been registered against The Wire on Thursday night on charges of spreading enmity and religious frenzy by broadcasting sensational, prejudiced, misleading and untrue things and making a malicious attempt to spoil communal amity. Instructions have been issued to initiate action," he said. In-charge of Kotwali police station Sachchidanand Rai said investigations are underway to find out who else was involved in "making provocative statements and spreading false information".

The news portal has termed the police's charges "baseless", and accused the Uttar Pradesh government of "criminalising the work of journalists who are reporting what is happening in the state". "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," said The Wire's founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan in a statement on Thursday.

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