New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government booked three journalists after they aired a news report on a local television channel alleging that the Kanpur Dehat district officials made government school children “shiver in biting cold” during an event to mark Uttar Pradesh Diwas on Sunday, January 24.
According to an NDTV report, the district’s ‘basic education officer’, Sunil Dutt, in a first information report (FIR) charged journalists with “public mischief” and “criminal intimidation”.
While accusing journalists of “misrepresenting yoga and exercise programme”, Dutt alleged that the journalists were not even present during the event, but carried the report without being fully aware of the issue at hand.
Visuals surfaced from the programme show schoolchildren waiting in what appears to be summer uniform holding toy guns, as the attendees clad in winter wear, fully covered, seated inside. The event was attended by the local district magistrate, a state minister and local MLAs.
In other videos, the children were seen performing various exercises, including a clip where they were seen performing yoga posture Shirshasana (headstand) in their summer uniform indoors.
According to the complainant, Dutt, children were asked to remove their winter clothing and to put on loose clothing only after reaching the venue and before performing their respective acts. He further added that children were asked to put on their winter wear immediately once they were done with their performance.
The complainant justified that such performances of yoga and physical exercises cannot be performed wearing winter wear and require loose clothing.
After the event, the following day, a student, who reportedly participated in the event, said they were asked to change only for the performance, and they had been wearing trousers and jacket until then.
“I am very pained to see that some journalists, who were not even there, have published news that the children were shivering in the cold. You can see that a child who performs Yoga cannot do it wearing a sweater or a coat or a pant. These children have performed very well. I appreciate them. Those who have carried this report…we are looking at who has done it,” Kanpur Dehat district magistrate Dinesh Chandra Singh told NDTV.
Lately, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has been accused of intimidating journalists by initiating legal proceedings or arresting them for their reportage critical of the government. Siddique Kappan, Supriya Sharma, Ashish Tomar, Shakil Ahmed, Lakhan Singh, Aamir Khan and Moin Ahmad, Ravindra Saxena, Vijay Vineet, Manish Mishra and Asad Rizvi are some of the journalists who have been wrongly implicated in various cases recently.
In fact, the Editors Guild of India wrote to the chief minister in November 2020 to address vital issues with respect to protecting press freedom and the rights and safety of working journalists in the state.