UP govt says 'Namak-Roti' video 'manipulated'

Jaiswal said that he had received information that the children at Siur primary school in Mirzapur were being served namak-roti as mid-day meal.  File photo for representation

The criticism the administration has faced for booking the journalist who recorded a video showing children at a primary school in Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur district eating namak-roti (chapati-salt) during the mid-day meal has had little effect. The state government on Tuesday claimed that the entire incident, which sparked a nation-wide outrage, was "manipulated".

District magistrate of Mirzapur, Anurag Patel, during a press conference claimed that the journalist was part of the "conspiracy", hatched by a village panchayat chief to "defame" the district administration and the state government.

Patel said that the representative of the village pradhan had called the journalist Pawan Jaiswal to the school to record the video. "We have the audio recording of their conversation," he remarked.

"It was all part of a conspiracy... the children were served namak-roti though the vegetable vendor had advance money to supply vegetables,'' he said.

Jaiswal agreed to record the video knowing that it was a conspiracy, he said. Jaiswal, a local reporter for a Hindi daily, was booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 420 (cheating) of the IPC.

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.

The Editors Guild of India also condemned the UP government's action against the journalist and demanded withdrawal of cases against the journalist.

"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.

Jaiswal said that he had received information that the children at Siur 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.
 
 
 

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