Bhopal, Aug 23 (SocialNews.XYZ) Lodging FIRs against three journalists over a recent news report about a man taking his ailing aged father on a handcart to a hospital in Madhya Pradesh, appeared to have become a controversial issue now as the Congress has accused the district administration and the police of falsely implicating the journalists.
On Sunday, a video surfaced on social media showing two men along with a woman taking an old man on a handcart, mentioning that they were taking him to a hospital. They were also heard saying they were taking their father on the handcart due to non-availability of an ambulance.
The viral video was reported in Lahar area of Bhind district, which falls in the Gwalior-Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh. After the news broke, the district administration claimed that the news reported by the journalists was false and baseless, as the family hadn't made any phone call for an ambulance. The administration said that the family had taken the elderly man Gyaprasad Vishwakarma to a private hospital and not to a government hospital.
Furthermore, the administration claimed that the news story has also falsely mentioned that the family was not getting benefits under various government schemes, including old age pension and others. Journalists Anil Sharma, Kunj Bihari Kourav and NK Bhatele were booked u/s 420 and 505 (2) of the IPC and Section 69 of the Information and Technology Act.
The FIRs were registered following the report of a fact finding team of revenue and health department staff, constituted to probe the matter by the Bhind district collector Dr. Satish Kumar.
Local journalists took out a protest march in Bhind district on Monday to oppose the FIRs, alleging that the journalists were booked under a planned move by the local administration to stop the media from exposing the real state of governance and the public services delivery system.
On Monday, state Congress spokesperson Abbas Hafeez tweeted a purported video of a state government doctor on whose complaint the case was registered against the three journalists on August 18. In the video, the person identified as Dr. Rajiv Kourav, was heard saying that "Complaint to the police was made under pressure of some senior officials, including local SDM, CHMO and the district collector."
"How can I file the complaint on my own, when I don't know any of the journalists who are named in the FIR," Kourav was heard saying in the video. However, IANS does not vouch for the authenticity of the video tweeted by the Congress spokesperson.
Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Dr. Govind Singh, who is the MLA from Lahar constituency, wrote to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan demanding an investigation into the matter.
"The local administration in Bhind is looting the people and when the media is exposing the truth, the administration is falsely implicating the journalists. I request the chief minister to order withdrawal of case and instead direct for filing a case against the erring officials," he wrote in his letter to Chouhan.
Talking to IANS, Singh said he will raise this issue in the Vidhan Sabha during its session next month.
The journalists have gained support not only from the Congress, but from the ruling BJP also. Ramesh Dube, BJP state working committee member, has condemned the registration of the FIRs against the journalists and demanded action against the erring officials.