UP: Scribe Faces FIR for Highlighting School Textbooks Meant for Poor Kids Being Sold as Scrap
Photo- Shishir Shukla.
Lucknow: The Lakhimpur Police has registered a First Information Report (FIR) against a journalist for allegedly tarnishing the government and education department’s image by sending them videos of bundles of books meant for free distribution to students of government primary schools, being sold as scrap. The journalist said he had sent the video to get an official reaction on the incident that he himself witnessed.
The FIR was registered at Palia police station by block education officer (BEO) Nagendra Chaudhary claiming that by making a video and circulating it on social media platforms, the journalist was attempting to tarnish the image of the government.
Photo- Shishir Shukla
A copy of the FIR accessed by NewsClick reads, "A video of Palia market in which a bundle of books is being shown in a rigid truck amidst some cluttered sacks/goods getting viral. In the viral video, the booklets sent by the government for free distribution are being told to be purchased by a junk shop. The above incident is affecting the image of the Basic Education Department as well as the administration."
A case under Section 420 of Indian Penal Code has been made against the journalist.
Shishir Shukla, the journalist who recorded the video and works with Hindi daily Amrit Vichar, told NewsClick that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government does not want any negative report to be covered.
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"Like every day, I was on the ground for a story. Near Dudhwa National Park Road, I saw multiple bundles of textbooks at scrap shops. I myself checked the books to confirm whether it is from the current session or the old ones, but I was shocked to see that all books under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which are supposed to be distributed to government primary school children, are being sold in scrap. I asked the shop owner where he got all the books from, he said from the scrap dealer," an upset Shukla said.
The journalist said he then sent the video to BEO (block education officer) for his reaction to balance the story, but instead of responding to his question, he registered a complaint at Palia police station.
"I have been reporting for more than 15 years but there has never been such a grim situation that action is being taken against a journalist for doing his work," said Shukla.
When contacted, Chaudhary, the BEO who registered the complaint against the journalist mentioning his contact number in the FIR, told NewsClick, "Whoever recorded the video should be punished as it was an attempt to tarnish the image of the government and education department. I have not mentioned the journalist's name in the FIR."
When asked about the contact number mentioned in the FIR, which belongs to the same journalist (Shukla) who sent the video to him for his comment, Chaudhary said, "It is a matter of investigation. I went there to investigate but the books were not there.”
Meanwhile, a group of journalists held protests in Lakhimpur, Palia, Nighasan, Shahjahanpur and Bareilly and handed over a memorandum to the SDM against the “witch-hunt”.
Students Without Books
For the past four months, state government-run primary and upper primary school students have been attending classes without their school uniforms and books.
Despite the new academic session for government-run primary schools having commenced on April 1, students in many government primary and upper primary schools across the state are still awaiting the arrival of their books. In the absence of new books, teachers are making use of a few old books that were given by last year's students, but most of them are torn. As a result, the teachers have no choice but to dictate notes until they receive the new sets of books, as reported by NewClick earlier.
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