India’s opposition Congress MP and former UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor and six journalists have been booked by police on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy over Tuesday’s rampage by farmers during their tractor rally in Delhi.
Officials said on Friday that at least five first information reports (FIRs) were filed against the seven accused — one in the city of Noida in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, close to the national capital, and four in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
In Noida, the FIR was filed on a complaint by a resident who alleged that “digital broadcasts” and “social media posts” by Tharoor and the six journalists, including popular TV anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, fuelled the violence on India’s Republic Day.
Apart from 55-year-old Sardesai, journalists Mrinal Pande, Vinod Jose, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath and Anant Nath have been named in the FIRs, officials said. Sardesai serves as a consulting editor at the Indian Today Group and is an anchor for its English news channel.
The Editors Guild of India has, however, condemned the FIRs against them, saying they reported “in line with established norms of journalistic practice”.
“The journalists have been specifically targeted for reporting the accounts pertaining to the death of one of the protestors on their personal social media handles as well as those of the publications they lead and represent,” the Guild said in a statement,
I”t must be noted that on the day of the protest and high action, several reports were emerging from eyewitnesses on the ground as well as from the police, and therefore it was only natural for journalists to report all the details as they emerged,” it added.
Thousands of farmers clashed with police on Tuesday, which coincided with Republic Day marking the anniversary of India officially adopting its constitution in 1950, after their tractor rally in Delhi in protest against the three new controversial farm laws turned violent.
At least one protester died and more than 300 cops were injured in the violence on that day, which also saw many farmers entering the iconic Red Fort and hoisting their flags. Delhi Police have already booked actor Deep Sidhu over the Red Fort rampage.
A UN diplomat for nearly 30 years, Tharoor is no stranger to controversy. Six years back, he got embroiled in a controversy after his wife was found dead in a Delhi hotel room, following a Twitter row that indicated his affair with a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.
Tharoor served as undersecretary general at the United Nations for communications and public information. But he quit the global body in 2007 after losing the election for the post of UN secretary-general to Ban Ki-moon.
He entered Indian politics in 2009, but was forced to step down from his first ministerial position in 2010 over his alleged involvement in bidding for a cricket team in the country’s multi-billion dollar cricketing tournament Indian Premier League.
He subsequently served as junior human resource development minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, which was decimated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 general elections.
Source: United News of Bangladesh