The Editors Guild of India on Monday took up the cudgels against the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh after it filed an FIR against a journalist who shot the video of school children being served roti with salt for mid-day meal in Mirzapur.
Condemning the UP government's action against Pawan Jaiswal, a local journalist with Jansandesh Times, the Guild said it was a "cruel and classic case of shooting the messenger."
Jaiswal was booked on charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy, based on a complaint by the Block Education Officer of the area, which accused him and a representative of the local village head, of conspiring to defame the Uttar Pradesh government.
The Guild said Jaiswal's "expose" showed how valuable "free and fearless journalists are to the democratic society."
It lashed out at the government for filing criminal cases against the journalist instead of "fixing what is wrong on the ground."
The Guild urged the government to withdraw all the cases and ensure the journalist is not put to any harm.
In the video from the Mirzapur school, children were seen sitting on the floor and eating rotis with salt.
However, the three-page First Information Report (FIR) mentions that only rotis were cooked in the school on the day the video was shot. It adds that the village head's representative should have arranged for vegetables, instead of calling a reporter to the school premises.
The FIR also says that Jaiswal shot the video and forwarded it to a news agency. It was widely shared on social media and defamed the state government, it adds.