The Uttar Pradesh police have filed an FIR against Mojo Story, a digital news platform led by journalist Barkha Dutt, in connection with the case of the alleged poisoning of three Dalit girls in Unnao district. Unnao Assistant Superintendent of Police VK Pandey claimed that false and misleading information was being circulated about the incident on social media.
The police alleged that they had not rushed to perform the last rites of the two deceased girls in the absence of the girls' families as against the portal's report which was based on the family's version, reported The News Minute.
Unnao police have registered a case against other Twitter users, on charges of spreading false information that could provoke violence. The police also cited the post mortem report of the two deceased girls to show that they had not been raped.
Police have reportedly registered a case under section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) and section 66 of the Information Technology Act against eight Twitter accounts. The handles include- @NilimDutta, @BhimSenaChief, @jajagranlive, @SurajKrBaudh, @Abhaykumarazad97, @Rahuldiwkr and @VijayAmbedkarUP.
Mojo Story has called the FIR "a blatant case of harassment and intimidation."
The portal, in a statement, also said that the police refusal on attempting to rush the cremation was reported by them and that they had also taken down a tweet after the police statement was issued.
However, the statement also mentions that reporters on the ground were informed by the girl's families that there were failed attempts by the police to perform the last rites in a hurry.
"We have reported all dimensions of the tragedy, the family's anxieties and allegations as well as the police response at every step. And if this case is pursued, we will confidently defend our journalistic rights and freedom in court," the statement said.
In a video shared by Mojo Story, a relative of the deceased girls said, "The police brought JCB (earthmovers) and told us to bury the bodies before they decompose. We said we wanted to wait till the next morning, so our relatives could come and pay their last respects … When we didn't allow them, they went back." The relative added that the last rites were performed the next morning.
On February 17, the bodies of two teenage Dalit girls were found in a field in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district. The police said it was a suspected case of poisoning. Another 17-year-old girl was also found from the same spot and in a critical condition.
The incident occurred in Babura village in Unnao district where the girls had gone to bring fodder for their cattle. Some family members went looking for them after the girls did not return by evening. The family then found them lying in an unconscious state in the field, the police said.
Earlier, the UP police had booked Congress leader Udit Raj for allegedly spreading false news that the girls were raped and that their bodies were cremated against the will of the family. An FIR was also filed against Raj.