UP Journalist 'Assaulted' for Covering Illegal Use of Machines in MNREGA Work

Vinay Tiwari was allegedly thrashed with lathis by the family members of the village pradhan for shooting videos of machines being used instead of labourers for road construction under the MNREGA scheme

New Delhi: A local journalist was allegedly assaulted by the family of a village head (pradhan) in Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh, after he raised questions over the illegal use of machines in MNREGA work instead of providing work to labourers, said news reports.

Vinay Tiwari (35), working for news portal Bundelkhand Times TV, was capturing a video of the construction of a link road at Dhaurra village on November 7 when sons of the village pradhan attacked him with lathis following a heated debate, area station house officer (SHO) Jai Prakash Chaubey said.

Tiwari was seriously injured and referred to Jhansi Medical College Hospital with multiple fractures, the SHO said.

Lalitpur SP Mirza Manzar Beg told The Hindu that they booked the village pradhan Babita Mishra, her husband and three sons for assault on the complaint of the journalist. Legal action has been taken and two of them have been sent to jail, the report added.

According to The Hindu, Tiwari had gone to cover a story based on a tip-off that machines and tractors were being used instead of manual labourers in a road construction work under the MNREGA scheme.

The assault took place when Tiwari shot videos of machines being used instead of manual labourers for road construction under the MNREGA scheme, and following this, the family members of the village pradhan attacked him. They not only snatched his video camera, mobile phone and cash, but allegedly thrashed him with lathis, the report said.

The accused reportedly carried a licensed weapon with them and forced Tiwari to shoot a video on gunpoint admitting that he was there to extort money. They allegedly threatened to shoot him, but luckily Tiwari’s brother reached the spot to rescue him.

One of the accused allegedly rammed Tiwari’s motorcycle and hit his leg with a shovel.

The International Federation of Journalists and its Indian affiliate National Union of Journalists – India (NUJ-I) condemned the attack and demanded that chief minister Yogi Adityanath set up an inquiry committee to probe the case and punish the culprits.

This wasn’t the first case against Tiwari, the report said, as he had previously been attacked for reporting on illicit liquor trade in the state.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet alleged the assailants were “goons” linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He asked if the government would only protect the rights of a “select few journalists” or help journalists like Vinay Tiwari.

With inputs from PTI.