New Delhi: The Press Club of India has expressed concern over the FIRs against The Wire and others, including senior journalists, over reports on an attack on an elderly Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh.
On Tuesday, The Wire had reported that the elderly Muslim man was attacked in Loni, in Ghaziabad district, on June 5 while on his way to offer prayers at a mosque. Abdul Samad, 72 years old, had alleged in a viral video that the attackers had also cut off his beard, and beat him up while forcing him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
The Wire‘s report was based on several other news reports, linked to the report.
“The follow up news stories and tweets on the basis of incidents which were already in the public domain in no way violate public order, spread hatred and social tensions as alleged in the FIR,” the PCI has said.
As The Wire has reported, the FIR, filed at 11:20 pm on June 15 has named AltNews journalist Mohammad Zubair, journalist Rana Ayub, media organisation The Wire, Congress’s Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani and Shama Mohamed, writer Saba Naqvi and social media giant Twitter INC and Twitter Communications India PVT.
The statement is signed by PCI president Umakant Lakhera and secretary general Vinay Kumar.
“The filing of the FIR clearly shows vendetta of Ghaziabad police to create a sense of state terror in the media and society at large,” the statement reads.
The charges in the FIR include provocation for rioting, promoting enmity between different group, acts intended to outrage religious feelings, and criminal conspiracy among others.
Ghaziabad Police later also ruled out any communal angle to this attack and has arrested a Muslim man who claimed to have helped the elderly man who was allegedly attacked.
A recent ground report by The Wire has also investigated the police’s “no communal angle” claim.
The PCI has demanded the quashing of the FIR against journalists and “further urged all journalist organizations to raise their voice against such vendetta politics and highhandedness against independent media personalities and organizations.”
“Press Club of India stands with the truth and the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression,” the statement noted, adding a further appeal to the Uttar Pradesh government to intervene and ensure that “journalists are not made easy targets of police high handedness” through filing of FIRs.