WB Govt. Files A Non-Bailable FIR Against Zee News Journalists For Reporting On Dhulagarh Riots

The Logical Indian

December 29th, 2016 / 12:09 PM

Dhulagarh Zee News Sudhir Chaudhury Mamta Banerjee

Source: newslaundry | Image Source: intoday ytimg

In a move against press freedom, the West Bengal Government filed an FIR against Zee News journalists for their coverage of the Dhulagarh riots. The FIR was filed under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code which concerns people who promote enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, residence, language, etc. Section 153 (A) is a non-bailable offence. The FIR was filed against a reporter and a cameraperson. Zee News was alleged to have carried out inflammatory coverage of the riots.

Sudhir Choudhury, the editor of Zee News, who is also named in the FIR, took to social media to vent his frustration. He accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of “using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord”. Choudhury called the FIR an attack on free speech and called for an independent investigation of the Dhulagarh riots.





Just to inform all of you Mamta Banerjee Govt has filed an FIR against me and ZeeNews reporter Pooja Mehta and…

Posted by Sudhir Chaudhary on Monday, December 26, 2016


What happened?

The town of Dhulagarh, which is 28 kilometres from Kolkata, witnessed communal riots on 13 December. The riots began after a Muslim procession celebrating Milad-ul-Nabi was attacked when passing through a Hindu-dominated route. In retaliation, Muslims from neighbouring areas grouped together and riots ensued. There were arson and vandalism; further details are unclear.

While no deaths have been reported, many people were forced to flee to neighbouring towns. The atmosphere in Dhulagarh is currently tense with police authorities deployed to control the situation.


The Logical Indian’s take:

The Logical Indian contacted local police twice – on 21 December and on 28 December. The local police told TLI “the situation is under control” and refused to comment further on both occasions.

The FIR filed against Zee News:

  • The warrant is non-bailable.
  • As for the accusations made by the State Government, even if the coverage of the riots was divisive, it does not merit a response from political authorities, and not in the form of Section 153 (A). Issues with coverage should be subject to a third-party, independent investigation, not branded under a non-bailable warrant.
  • The Mamata Banerjee Government has a history of subduing press freedom and freedom of expression.
  • Whether live coverage of riots should be allowed is debatable. What is not debatable, however, is that State machinery should not tell the press what they can and cannot cover. The State should take the judicial route and go to the court if they find the press’s behaviour to be inciteful.
  • Free access to the riot-hit sites should be allowed for the press to understand what really transpired in Dhulagarh.

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