The Uttar Pradesh Police has lodged an FIR against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and several journalists, including former consulting editor of India Today Rajdeep Sardesai, for allegedly spreading misinformation on the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26.
The others who are booked are National Herald group editorial advisor Mrinal Pandey and its executive editor Vinod Jose, editor-in-chief of Qaumi Awaz Zafar Agha, Caravan editor Anant Nath and its editor-publisher Paresh Nath, and an unnamed person.
The FIR has been lodged under various IPC sections including Section 124A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between groups), section 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings), Section 504 (intentional insult), Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy to commit offence punishable by death).
The FIR says the accused acted in “prejudice”, which put national safety and people’s lives in jeopardy. “These people deliberately made malicious, offensive, misleading and provocative statements, and tweeted…that police killed a protesting tractor driver,” it alleged. The driver was killed when his tractor toppled over and post-mortem had ruled out any bullet injuries.
The FIR alleges that the “false information” was publicised as part of a “planned conspiracy”. It says, “This was done with the mala fide intent so that riots take place at a large scale and tensions are created between different communities.” It says this was also done for “personal and political gains” of the accused.
“Due to the atmosphere created by their tweets, protesters reached the Lal Qila and hoisted religious and other flags. The named persons are wholly responsible for this unfortunate incident in India’s history,” it alleges.
The complaint was filed by a Noida resident — who police identified as Arpit Mishra, a social worker.
Most of the charges mentioned in the FIR are non-bailable.