A first information report (FIR) has been registered against journalist Siddharth Varadarajan who is the editor of The Wire news portal. The FIR is based on a complaint filed by one Sanju Turaiha, a resident of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. According to a report in The Indian Express, Varadarajan was charged under Sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity between classes) of the IPC. It has been alleged that his social media post allegedly “mislead people” on the death of a protester in New Delhi during the Republic Day incidents.
The IE reports that complainant has stated, “It has come to my notice through social media that a person named Siddharth Varadarajan posted on Twitter that Hardeep Singh Dibdibiya, grandfather of Navreet Singh Dibdibiya, who died during the protest against farm bills in Delhi, said he was told by a doctor, from the panel of doctors which conducted the post-mortem, that the youth had died due to a bullet injury. And that the doctor’s hands were tied and hence, he could not do anything. In the tweet, the so-called report that has been cited tries to give the impression that it is the quote of the doctor, which is intended to mislead people. This has led to anger among the common people in Rampur and given rise to tension.”
The complainant alleged that the social media post, was part of a “conspiracy” to cause harm to common people, gain publicity and instigate violence, adding that “the post-mortem of Navreet was done by a panel of three doctors and the report was sent to the Rampur Superintendent of Police (SP) and the officials concerned in a sealed envelope. The doctors have not given any statement regarding the autopsy to anyone and the post-mortem was also videographed.” He complained that the tweet was not removed by Vardharajan. The editor has stated: “The Wire will not be deterred by FIRs from covering a story.”
The Wire will not be deterred by FIRs from covering a story.
Here is our video report from Rampur. Watch the family of the young farmer killed in the tractor parade speak of its concerns about a coverup, a charge the admin denies.https://t.co/rfISCeQkaJ via @thewire_in
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) February 1, 2021
On January 30 the official Twitter account of District Magistrate, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh had responded to the journalist and refuted the news story that had been posted.
We ardently request you to please let’s be sticking to facts and facts only. We hope our request will be sincerely taken up by you. Thank you.
Here is the official declaration. pic.twitter.com/2dowcoMriM
— DM Rampur (@DeoRampur) January 30, 2021
Now, the IE reported that the Rampur SP Shogun Gautam said the complaint was received from local resident Sanju Turaiha and an FIR lodged, “under relevant sections of the IPC based on facts. We will be adding the name of the reporter who wrote the news report to the FIR.”
In April 2020, the Uttar Pradesh government summoned the senior Delhi-based journalist to Ayodhya even though the Covid-19 lockdown was strictly enforced. Varadarajan, had been called to appear in Ayodhya on April 14 2020, in connection with a case registered against him by Uttar Pradesh Police, which took exception to a report in his publication. The Wire article had stated that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other people had attended a religious ceremony in Ayodhya after the national lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Two FIRs were filed against him and the online news portal under various provisions of the law on April 1, one on the basis of a complaint from a resident of Ayodhya and the other on the basis of a complaint by the Station House Officer (SHO) of Faizabad’s Kotwali Nagar Police Station.