New Delhi: A first information report (FIR) has been filed against The Wire’s Founding Editor Siddharth Varadarajan in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur for tweeting an article published on the news website claiming that the farmer who died during a tractor rally on Republic Day had sustained bullet injuries.
The article was published on Friday, citing the family of Navreet Singh who rejected the Delhi Police’s claims that he had died after his tractor overturned and claimed that the man was shot.
The Rampur district magistrate had responded to Varadarajan’s tweet, rejecting the claim made in the report. “We ardently request you to please let’s be sticking to facts and facts only. We hope our request will be sincerely taken up by you," a tweet from the official DM Rampur handle said.
The Rampur Police has now gone a step further, registering an FIR against Varadarajan under Indian Penal Code Sections 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 505(2) (statements conducing to public mischief).
Reacting to FIR, Varadarajan said, “What’s the IPC [Indian Penal Code] provision for ‘malicious prosecution’,” he asked. “Here is the UP Police indulging in it, filing an FIR against me for tweeting about what the grandfather of farmer who was killed in the tractor parade had said on the record!”
On January 26, thousands of protesting farmers had clashed with the police during the tractor rally called by farmer unions to highlight their demand for repeal of the Centre's three farm laws. One protester was killed when his tractor overturned, police said. The family, however, claimed that the man was shot, leading to him losing the control of the vehicle.
Earlier, several FIRs have been filed against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists for allegedly sharing unverified news about the death of the protesting farmer.
Similar FIRs have been registered in Noida and Bhopal against Tharoor, journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Vinod K. Jose (The Caravan) and others for sedition on Thursday. An FIR lodged at the Sector 20 police station stated that they were booked for tweeting and spreading fake news pertaining to the death of a farmer during the tractor rally in Delhi on January 26.
On 26 January, The Caravan had put out a tweet citing an eyewitness, saying the farmer was shot by the police.