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Journalist held after taking pictures of children mopping school floor


Azamgarh (UP), Sep 9: The district magistrate on Monday ordered a probe into the arrest of a journalist allegedly after he took photographs of some children mopping the floor in their school.

Journalist held after taking pictures of children mopping school floor

Santosh Jaiswal was arrested for allegedly obstructing public servants from discharging their duty and extortion, charges similar to those levelled against a reporter in Mirzapur after he caught just salt and rotis being served to children at another school in the state. On September 7, police had booked five journalists in Bijnor after they reported that a Dalit family was prevented from drawing water from a hand pump.

In Azamgarh, local journalist said the charges against Jaiswal were false. Their delegation met district magistrate N P Singh who has ordered a probe, a fellow journalist said.

Shocking that case filed against journalist for salt-roti midday meal story: Editors Guild

"No injustice will be meted out to the journalist. We will look into the matter," Azamgarh DM N P Singh told them. Jaiswal was arrested on Friday after he took photographs of schoolchildren mopping the floor. He called the police to inform them of the illegal practice, local journalists said.

The police, however, took both Jaiswal and Oodpur primary school Principal Radhey Shyam Yadav to the Phulpur police station. The school principal lodged a complaint against Jaiswal on the basis of which an FIR was registered against him on Friday and he was arrested, a local journalist said.

The principal alleged that Jaiswal often visited the school and misbehaved with teachers and students, asking them to subscribe to the newspaper published by him. Yadav alleged in the FIR that on the day of the incident, Jaiswal came to the school and ordered some children to mop the floor so that he could take the photographs.

The principal claimed that when he objected to this, Jaiswal fled the school premises, leaving his vehicle there. The journalist demanded money from him, according to the principal's version. Local journalists claimed that their colleague was arrested as police nursed a grudge against him.

In May, Jaiswal had posted on his Twitter handle a photograph of Phulpur Police Station House Officer Shivshankar Singh's SUV with tinted window and without a number plate. Police had said the photograph was an old one and the vehicle had already been registered with the transport authorities. But the registration number police given by police was claimed by another resident to be that of his motorcycle, a journalist said.

In Bijnor, police booked five journalists after they reported that a Dalit family was allegedly prevented from drawing water from a hand pump by some people at Basi village in Uttar Pradesh's Bijnor. Two of them have been named by police while the other three have not been identified. The report lodged on September 7 accused Shakeel Ahmed and Ashish Tomar, along with three others, of posing a danger to social harmony, creating caste tensions and danger to national security.

Circle Officer Mahesh Kumar said a widow had complained to police last month that some people thrashed her daughter when she went to draw water from a hand pump at Basi village. Initially, a compromise was reached between the two groups. But the woman was again allegedly prevented from collecting water, after which she pasted a poster outside her house, mentioning that it was for sale.

The issue was flagged by the journalists. The district administration assured to take back the cases against the journalists after an action committee of scribes lodged a protest against it. In Mirzapur on September 2, police had lodged a case against a journalist, accusing him of maligning the Uttar Pradesh government by recording a video of children at a school being served roti and salt as their midday meal last month.

According to the complaint, Pawan Kumar Jaiswal conspired with the village head representative and deliberately made the video in a well-planned manner and did "despicable work" of maligning the image of the state government. Jaiswal, however, denied the allegations. The video of the students being served salt and roti in their midday meal had gone viral on social media on August 22, triggering widespread outrage and leading to the suspension of two teachers.

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