Days after students at a government school in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur district were filmed eating rotis with salt as their mid-day meal under a flagship scheme of the central government, a case has been filed by the state government against the journalist who shot the video.
In its complaint, the Block Education Officer of the area has accused the journalist, Pawan Jaiswal, and a representative of the local village head of a conspiracy to defame the Uttar Pradesh government.
In the video from the Mirzapur school, young children are seen sitting on the floor of the school corridor, eating rotis with salt.
The website of the Uttar Pradesh Mid Day Meal Authority – the overseeing body for these meals in the state – describes an elaborate menu that is supposed to be served to the children at the state-run primary schools. It includes pulses, rice, rotis and vegetables. Fruits and milk are included on certain days, according to the meal chart.
The three-page first information report, however, mentions that only rotis were cooked in the school on the day when the video was shot. It further adds that the village head’s representative should have arranged for vegetables instead of calling a reporter to the school premises.
The FIR also says that the video was shot by the local journalist, who works with the Jansandesh Times, and then forwarded to the news agency ANI. The video was widely shared on social media and defamed the state government, it adds.
The journalist and the village head’s representative have been accused of cheating and criminal conspiracy.
The Editors Guild of India has condemned the state government’s action and urged it to withdraw the cases. It also urged that the journalist is not harmed or harassed.