The Rajasthan Police has registered an FIR against former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot’s media manager Lokendra Singh and Aaj Tak journalist Sharat Kumar for reporting on the phone tapping of Congress MLAs during their stay in a hotel in Jaisalmer.
According to the reports, the FIR against the Aaj Tak reporter Kumar and Lokendra Singh comes two months after the Sachin Pilot’s camp had accused the Ashok Gehlot-led government of tapping phones of some of their MLAs during their stay at a hotel amidst the political crisis in the state. Sachin Pilot and a number of MLAs on his side were rebelling gainst the Ashok Gehlot led faction at that time.
The Rajasthan Police had lodged the FIR at Jaipur’s Vidhayak Puri police station against Lokendra Singh, the media manager of Congress leader Sachin Pilot and Sharat Kumar.
The FIR has been filed under IPC Sections 505 (1) (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report), 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and section 76 of the Information and Technology Act (the Act allows police to confiscate any kind of gadget related to information sharing).
The SHO of Vidhayak Puri police station said that they have summoned Lokendra Singh to the police station on Thursday along with his gadgets, which were allegedly used for the information dissemination of ‘phone tapping report’.
“I was the last one to report the ‘phone tapping story’. Most of my colleagues had reported the same story. I fail to understand that why the government has singled out one media house in particular”, said Aaj Tak journalist Sharat Kumar, who has been named in the FIR.
Sachin Pilot camp had made ‘Phone tapping’ allegations against Ashok Gehlot-led government
In August, amidst the political crisis in the state, the Sachin Pilot-led Congress MLAs had alleged that Rajasthan’s CM Ashok Gehlot had tapped their phones, who were then staying at Jaisalmer’s Suryagarh hotel. The Pilot camp had alleged that the calls of at least six MLAs in Jaisalmer were being recorded “unconstitutionally” by the state government.
The Pilot camp had also claimed that “four jammers have also been installed at Suryagarh resort by Ajaib Electronics and there is just one place in the entire hotel from where calls can be made”.
However, the Rajasthan police had denied the allegations and claimed that people were spreading false information.
A political crisis had erupted in Rajasthan Congress in July this year, after Sachin Pilot and his camp had rebelled against CM Ashok Gehlot. However, the crisis between the two Congress leaders ended in a truce.
Opposition, activists attack Congress-led government in Rajasthan
Following the FIR against the journalist, the activists in Rajasthan have condemned Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government for attacking the freedom of the press.
Kavita Srivastava, President and Anant Bhatnagar, General Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said, “We condemn the vindictiveness of the Rajasthan Government led by CM Ashok Gehlot, which has sanctioned the lodging of FIR against two senior journalists, Sarat Kumar of Aaj Tak and Lokendra Singh (XYZ news Channel).
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP slammed Gehlot for suppressing the fourth pillar of democracy. The Rajasthan BJP President Satish Poonia tweeted on Wednesday, “Ashok Gehlot who often talks about the democracy being in danger is now suppressing the fourth pillar of democracy because in past days journalist have raised the voices of deprived and voiceless”.