Farmers' tractor parade: UP Court grants interim protection from arrest to The Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan, journo Ismat Ara

Uttar Pradesh Sessions Court on Thursday granted interim protection from arrest to Founding Editor of The Wire Siddharth Varadarajan and journalist Ismat Ara in connection with report on the death of Navreet Singh during the farmers' tractor parade on Republic Day in Delhi.

The matter had come before the Sessions Judge, Rampur on Thursday. The journalist duo sought interim protection until the case is disposed.

In order granting protection to the duo stated, "The applicants have expressed the possibility of getting arrested. At this stage, only the FIR report is available. Looking at the facts and circumstances of the matter, applicants Siddharth Varadarajan and Ismat Ara have been granted interim bail and their arrests in this matter have been stayed."

Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh police had registered an FIR against Siddharth Varadarajan after a complaint was filed by Sanju Turaha, a resident of Rampur. The complainant has alleged that a report published on the website had distorted facts about the death of a farmer, Navreet Singh, who was killed when his speeding tractor overturned on January 26.

In the report, the father of the deceased was quoted as saying that one of the doctors, who performed the autopsy, told him that the body bore a bullet mark. The Founding Editor of the website had tweeted that report on Saturday.

Soon after the report was published and tweeted, District Magistrate of Rampur A.K. Singh contested the version by furnishing a signed statement of the CMO, Dr Mohmmed Zubair, and two other doctors, namely Dr Dashrath Singh and Dr Manoj Kumar Shukla.

The joint statement claimed that the autopsy of Navreet Singh was done by a panel of three doctors on January 27 at 2 am.

“As per rules, a videography of the entire autopsy process was done. The report was handed over to the SP and SHO of the concerned police station in a sealed envelope. None of the doctors talked to the media or anyone. As per rules, they can only give statements in the court, if summoned,” said the statement.

Attaching the joint statement, the DM Rampur tweeted in reply to Varadarajan's tweet: “We ardently request you, to please let’s stick to facts and facts only. We hope our request will be sincerely taken up by you. Thank you.”

Failing to get any response from the publisher of that article, an FIR was lodged against Varadarajan under Sections 153B and 505 (2).

Earlier, FIRs were filed against senior journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pandey, Zafar Agha and three others by the Noida police for tweeting distorted facts to incite violence.

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