The Uttar Pradesh Police has registered a First Information Report against senior journalist and executive editor of news website Scroll.in, Supriya Sharma, for reporting on the effects of lockdown from a village in Prime Minister Modi's Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi.
Sharma has been charged with sections related to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, printing defamatory matter (Section 501 of the Indian Penal Code) and negligent act likely to spread infectious disease dangerous to life (Section 269 of IPC).
According to the police, the FIR was registered based on a complaint by Mala Devi, a resident of Varanasi's Domari Village, which has been adopted by Modi as part of Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, a rural development programme.
According to The FIR - a copy of which is with Onmanorama - Mala Devi had complained that Sharma misrepresented her comments and identity. Quoting Mala, the FIR stated that she and her family did not face any problems during lockdown. The police have also named the website's editor-in-chief in the FIR.
Sharma reported that Mala was a domestic worker and faced food distress during the lockdown as she did not have a ration card.
In response to the FIR, the website stated that it stands by the article. “Scroll.in interviewed Mala in Domari village in Varanasi on June 5, 2020 and her statements have accurately been reported in the article. Scroll.in stands by the article, which has been reported from the prime minister’s constituency. This FIR is an attempt to intimidate and silence independent journalism, reporting on conditions of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 lockdown,” the statement read.