Journo who exposed 'namak-roti' meal booked by police

Journalist Pawan Jaiswal reiterates that he shot what he saw at the school in Mirzapur. (PTI Photo)

Apparently irked over the video, that revealed that the children at an Uttar Pradesh primary school were being served 'namak-roti' as mid-day meal, triggering a nationwide outrage, the UP police have booked the scribe, who had recorded the video, for ''conspiring'' against the state government.

The scribe, who was a local reporter for a Hindi daily, has been charged with preparing the video with ''conspiracy, wrong intention and tarnishing the image'' of the state government in connivance with the village panchayat chief in Mirzapur district, about 300 kilometres from here.

According to the sources, the scribe, Pawan Jaiswal, was booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 420 (cheating) of the IPC along with some others.

Sources said that cases were registered against Jaiswal and the representative of the panchayat chief Rajkumar Pal on the direction of the Mirzapur district magistrate Anurag Patel.

On being queried in this regard, the state basic education minister Satish Dwivedi said on Monday that he would seek a report from the district police chief about the matter. ''Those, who expose corruption or wrongdoing, should not be persecuted,'' he said.

Jaiswal said that he had been getting information that the children at Siyur primary school in Mirzapur were being served 'namak-roti' as mid-day meal. 

''I informed the senior officials about it...I visited the school and saw that the children were indeed eating namak-roti...I made the video...the district administration, in a bid to cover up its misdeeds has lodged several cases against me.....I only did what a journalist should have done,'' Jaiswal said.

"Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath should look into the matter," he added.

The video, that had gone viral on the social networking sites, showed 'namak-roti' (chapati-salt) being served to the children as mid-day meal at the primary school. An embarrassed state government, which faced widespread criticism from the opposition leaders and the netizens, suspended two teachers and ordered a probe into the matter.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra slammed the Yogi government for serving chapati-salt to the kids. ''The incident exposes the real condition of the government schemes in UP,'' she said in a post on Twitter. Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders also said that the BJP government had failed to implement the mid-day meal scheme. 

The Editors Guild of India has condemned the UP government's action against the journalist and demanded the withdrawal of the cases against the scribe.
 
''It is a cruel and classic case of shooting the messenger.....it is shocking that instead of taking action to fix what is wrong on the ground, the government has filed criminal cases against the journalist,'' the Guild said in a statement on Monday.

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