FIR filed by mining officer against 6 reporters after questions on illegal mining
Bhopal: A First Information Report (FIR) filed against six journalists in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone was provoked by their insistence for a statement from the mining officer on illegal sand mining in the district, president of the district journalists association Sunil Sharma said on Monday after a video of the back-and-forth between the journalists and the officer emerged.
The six journalists have been charged with rioting, use of obscene language, criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, criminal intimidation and the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Madhya Pradesh agriculture minister Kamal Patel, who is also the state’s minister incharge of Khargone, tweeted after the video was released that he had spoken to the district superintendent of police and told him to hold an impartial probe into the charges.
The FIR was registered on July 2 afternoon by the Khargone police against Asif Khan, Praveen Pal, Wahid Khan, Pawan Kumar Solanki, Pradeep Gangle and Dharmendra Chouhan, who work for different national and local media outlets.
Sunl Sharma said the video released on Monday shows that the FIR was based on a fake complaint from the mining officer Sawan Singh Chouhan. “In the video, the journalists were seen repeatedly seeking a statement from the district mining officer on violations of the NGT’s (National Green Tribunal) order banning sand mining. But they didn’t abuse him or stop him from doing his work. The officer was offended as he supports the illegal mining mafia and owners of two mining companies, who are involved in the illegal sand excavation.”
In a video message that was retweeted by the Khargone administration’s public relations officer, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha member Gajendra Singh Patel promised justice. “As the fourth pillar of democracy, it is the job of journalists to ask questions and the duty of the officers to respond to them. I assure you that I will discuss the case with senior officials in the administration and get justice for the journalists,” said Patel, who represents Khargone in the Lok Sabha.
Khargone mining officer Sawan Singh Chouhan said the journalists kept arguing with him and created a ruckus. “I called the journalists to my office to answer their questions. But I received an email from the head office seeking some details on mining in the district. I had to reply within a few minutes. I asked them to wait for some time, but they kept arguing with me.”
“Even in the video, I was seen asking them to wait outside for a few minutes. But they kept talking aggressively. Later, they stopped making the video and abused me. They also said that I became an officer due to reservation in government jobs and made a comment on my caste. Some outsiders and my staff members are eyewitnesses of this incident,” said Chouhan.
“It was shocking for me. I discussed the matter with senior officers before filing the complaint,” he added.
District superintendent of police Shailendra Singh Chouhan said the case was registered on the complaint of the officer. “Now, we are investigating the matter. Further action will be taken after investigation,” he said, declining to get into the details.