An FIR has been lodged against Supriya Sharma, the executive editor of Scroll.in, by UP police. The FIR was registered after Supriya published a report on the poor condition of Varanasi’s Domari village during the outbreak of covid-19. The said village also happens to be the adopted by Prime Minister.
While preparing her report, Supriya had interviewed Mala, who is the resident of the village. According to the interview, mala had said that she was a domestic worker and was experiencing hardships in availing food as she did not have a ration card.
However, on 13th June, the Ram Nagar police station registered a complaint by Mala, who said that she was not a domestic worker and faced no hardships as mentioned in the report prepared by Supriya titled ‘in Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown’. She further claimed that she was sanitation worker at Varanasi city municipality through outsourcing.
The statement by her in the FIR states, “During the lockdown, neither me or anyone in my family faced any problems. By saying that me and my children went hungry, Supriya had made fun of my poverty and caste. It has affected me psychologically and has brought disrepute upon me socially.”
Along with Supriya, an FIR has also been registered against the editor-in-chief of Scroll.in. The case has been registered under sections 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life and sections related to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe (prevention of atrocities) Act 1989 on the Indian penal code.
After the FIR, a statement was released by Scroll, where they stood by their report. It read, “Scroll.in interviewed Mala in Domari village, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, on June 5, 2020. Her statements have accurately been reported in the article titled, ‘In Varanasi village adopted by Prime Minister Modi, people went hungry during the lockdown’. Scroll.in stands by the article, which has been reported from the Prime Minister’s constituency. This FIR is an attempt to intimidate and silence independent journalism, reporting on conditions of vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 lockdown.”