As per sources, an FIR has been lodged against eight Twitter handles for allegedly propagating “fake and misleading news” in connection with the death of two girls in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.
The Twitter handles include news portal ‘Mojo Story’, led by senior journalist Barkha Dutt who termed the FIR a case of brazen “harassment and bullying, said Assistant Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar Pandey.
The case was registered on Sunday at the Sadar Kotwali police station area in Unnao, against seven more Twitter accounts: Janjagran Live, Aazad Samaj Party spokesperson Suraj Kumar Boudh, Nilim Dutta, Vijay Ambedkar, Abhay Kumar Azad, Rahul Diwakar, Nawab Satpal Tanwar.
On the other hand, while reacting to the FIR, Ms. Dutt said, “We’ve followed journalistic principles by reporting all sides of an evolving story. To use IPC sections that are punishable with prison is pure intimidation. I am very ready to fight it and face it in court.”
The ‘Mojo Story’ editor alleged that the Unnao Police had refused to even give a copy of the FIR without which one cannot appeal for judicial intervention.
Mojo Story in a statement said that the police denial on attempting to rush the cremation was reported by them prominently and that they had also removed a tweet after the police statement was issued. However, the statement insists that reporters on the ground were told by the girl’s families that there were indeed failed attempts by the police to perform the last rites in a hurry.
In a video shared by Mojo Story, a relative of the deceased girls, told the portal, “The police brought JCB (earthmovers) and told us to bury the bodies before they decompose. We said we wanted to wait till the next morning, so our relatives could come and pay their last respects. When we didn’t allow them, they went back.” The relative added that the last rites were performed the next morning.
Three minor Dalit girls were found in an unconscious state in Unnao’s Baburaha village on Wednesday night. Two of them were declared brought dead at the district hospital, while the third was referred to a private hospital in Kanpur in a critical condition. The girls, who were related to each other, were found in a field by the villagers when they did not return after leaving their house to take fodder for cattle.
On Thursday, police registered a case of murder, though the post-mortem revealed no injury marks on the two deceased girls. “The cause of death could not be ascertained and viscera has been preserved for chemical analysis,” police said. The hospital treating the third girl noted that it was a suspected case of poisoning, according to the police.