The Noida police booked Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod K Jose (Caravan), Mrinal Pande and others for sedition on Thursday. An FIR lodged at the Sector-20 police station stated that they were booked for tweeting and spreading fake news pertaining to the death of a farmer during the tractor rally on January 26, 2021.
As per the FIR, the police registered a case against them based on a complaint by Arpit Mishra, 35. The FIR also names Zafar Agha, the Group Editor-in-Chief of National Herald, and Ananth Nath, the Editor of Caravan.
Interestingly, the case has been filed in UP, although the jurisdiction for the case would be Delhi. A legal expert told TNM that since the sections used are cognizable offences, the UP police may be trying to show that the case can be filed anywhere and will then be transferred to the jurisdictional police.
The journalists and politicians have been booked under sections 153A [Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony], 153B [Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration], 295A [Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs], 298 [Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person], 504 [Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace], 506 [Criminal Intimidation], 505(2) [Statements conducing to public mischief], 124-A [Sedition], 34 [Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention] and 120-B [Punishment of criminal conspiracy] of the Indian Penal Code and section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Speaking to TNM, the complainant Arpit Mishra, who is a businessman in Noida said he did not expect a sedition case to be slapped against those who spread rumours. He said, “I have noticed that all these people have spread rumours. At the time when the Republic Day parade was going on they have said that someone has fired a bullet at an innocent man and actually in the post mortem report it was confirmed that it was due to the accident of the tractor. All the people I have complained against have spread this rumour on social media platforms and on live television as well. I personally feel that this rumour may be the reason why people got so angry there and decided to march towards Red Fort. This is why I went ahead and filed a complaint. I have also provided the police a copy of all their tweets. I did not expect initially that they would be booked for sedition. I have seen their tweets, so I showed it to the police, now it is upto the police how they want to proceed with the case.”
Earlier on Thursday, India Today took Rajdeep Sardesai, its Consulting Editor, off air for two weeks and cut one month of his salary for spreading fake news. He had, on January 26, tweeted that one of the farmers who had participated in the protests allegedly died in the police shooting. The police had however said that the farmer died in an accident and later released a video that showed the farmer losing control of his tractor and the vehicle overturning. After the video was released by Delhi Police, Rajdeep tweeted affirming the video. He had also affirmed the same in his live coverage later that day.
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