Journalist held for removing barricades at Singhu, sent to judicial custody
Delhi police on Sunday arrested freelance journalist Mandeep Punia for allegedly trying to remove barricades and obstructing officials on duty at the Singhu border. Punia, who contributes to the Caravan magazine, was sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a city court.
The FIR was registered against Punia by an inspector of the city police, alleging that around 6.30pm on Saturday, a group of protesters tried to remove police barricades and reach the protest site.
The FIR reads that the barricades were placed on the road after Friday’s incident, when a group of locals clashed with the farmers. Police put up the barricades to close pedestrian movement. The inspector alleged that when the protesters turned violent and mild force was used to disperse them, most of them fled but Punia assaulted a constable and then fell on the ground.
Journalists’ associations criticised the police for arresting Punia, who was in Singhu to cover the farmers’ protest. A demonstration against the arrest was held at the police headquarters on Sunday. Delhi police did not issue any statement on the matter. Despite text messages and phone calls, no officer, authorised to issue a press statement on behalf of the police, offered a response.
Separately, the Uttar Pradesh police registered a case at the Civil Lines police station, Lucknow, against journalist Siddharth Varadarajan for allegedly circulating a rumour regarding the death of farmer Navreet Singh during the tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day.
According to the complaint, Varadarajan, in a tweet on January 30, pointed to a article on the website he runs that claimed that the doctor who performed the post-mortem examination on Navreet told the latter’s grandfather that he saw a bullet injury. Authorities have denied the report.
Varadarajan has been booked under Sections 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505(2) (statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Uttar Pradesh police, echoing the Delhi police, said the farmer died when his tractor overturned and the post-mortem report said the cause of death was shock and haemorrhage due to a head injury.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella union of 40 farmer groups protesting at Delhi’s borders, condemned the arrest of Punia, saying the journalist and several others were held on “false and fabricated charges” and “out of fear of the rising strength of the farmers’ movement”.
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- The move comes after it was found during an inspection that bars at some establishments were using liquor and beer bottles which did not have 2D bar-code and those that were not readable.