An FIR has been filed by Chhattisgarh police against a local video journalist named Manish Soni for reporting on the farmers whose paddy crops were destroyed in an anti-encroachment drive of the municipal corporation. The journalist was booked in Ambikapur district for allegedly using explicit and derogatory language on October 20 on the complaint of Ajay Tirki, Congress Mayor of Ambikapur.
Soni has denied all the allegations against him. He said that the action against him was taken with mala fide intention. Alleging that the police registered a case without primary investigation, Soni said that the video on the basis of which the FIR has been registered has been edited by some other people. “The police have not done any primary investigation and registered a case against me”, he said. According to the report, Soni said that his story about the anti-encroachment drive of the municipal corporation was covered by various channels and therefore the municipal corporation turned against him.
Manish Soni further said that the farmers affected by the drive have filed a written complaint against the employees of the municipal corporation. “Second, the affected farmers have also lodged a written complaint against the employees of Municipal Corporation in Gandhi Nagar police station, claiming that no notices were served before the anti-encroachment drive. Hence, some people were not happy with my news report and I believe that they have distorted my video and made a meme. On the basis of that distorted video, police have registered a case without any primary investigation”, he added.
Responding to Soni’s allegations, Mayor Tirki questioned why Soni did not file a complaint if his video was distorted. He said, “I was not aware that the video was edited or original. The video has abusive content and it was circulated everywhere on social media. If the video was edited, why did Soni not complain that his video was distorted and is being circulated?”
According to Inspector General of Police (IG) Ratanlal Dangi, Soni has been booked under section 294 of the Indian Penal Code and the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and an investigation is underway in the case. IG Dangi said that if Soni claimed that the video was not made by him and he could provide the original video to the police. “If he submits the original video which he made, we will investigate it forensically and the case will be taken back”, he said.
Soni was reportedly booked in another case last month for allegedly putting up an objectionable post regarding an encounter between security forces and Maoists.
Journalist dragged on street and beaten up
Last month, Kamal Shukla, editor of a regional newspaper called Bhoomkal Samachar, was dragged on the street by Congress goons, beaten up and attacked with a sharp weapon in Chhattisgarh. The incident happened around 100 km from the nearest police station. Shukla has been covering assault on a young journalist who had been filing RTIs on illegal sand miners.