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The Wire: Repeated FIRs criminalise reportage that is contrary to official version

Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police have lodged an FIR against social media network Twitter, news portal The Wire, journalists Rana Ayyub and Saba Naqvi, Congress politicians Shama Mohamed, Salman Nizami and Maskoor Usmani and Alt news co-founder Mohammed Zubair for tweeting a horrific video of the beard of an senior Muslim citizen from Ghaziabad being chopped off by some attackers.

The video suggested that a Muslim man was targeted by Hindus but police said members of both denominations had participated in the attack.

The police registered an FIR against them for offences under Sections 153 (provocation to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups), 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 505 (public mischief), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

This is the third FIR filed against The Wire in the last 14 months. In a statement, The Wire said:

Statement by The Wire on the latest FIR filed against it by the Uttar Pradesh Police
June 16, 2021

On June 14, 2021, The Wire, as also other media organisations, reported an incident from Uttar Pradesh about a violent attack on an elderly Muslim man, Abdul Samad Saifi. The man, who has described the incident in graphic detail on video, is quoted in the story as saying his beard was cut and he was forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

https://thewire.in/communalism/elderly-muslim-man-attacked-in-ghaziabad-assailants-chop-off-his-bear

The video of the man describing his ordeal is available on YouTube:

As with all other published stories, The Wire tweeted a link to its story at 7:15 pm on June 14, 2021:

The Uttar Pradesh police, which has registered a case under various provisions of the IPC including 504 (‘intentional insult’), is still investigating the crime against Abdul Samad Saifi.

However, it claims that the attackers include Muslims and has concluded, on this basis, that there was no element of communal hatred. It has also decided that those who reported Saifi’s account are themselves guilty of a criminal conspiracy to spread communal hatred.

On June 15, the police registered an FIR against (1) six individuals for their tweets on the victim’s claims, (2) The Wire for its tweet of June 14 (7:15 pm), and (3) Twitter for having published these tweets.

The Wire condemns the registration of a criminal case by the UP Police over a news story and tweet based on accurate and truthful reports, by many media organisations, of what the victim of the crime has himself said about the incident. The FIR is an attempt to criminalise the reporting of anything other than the official version of events.

The Wire
New Delhi
June 16, 2021

Categories: Uncategorized

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