Lucknow: The Rae Bareli District Administration in Uttar Pradesh hired three local journalists for publishing and sharing a “baseless and false” news report alleging the diversion of “20 metric tons” of oxygen to the adjacent Kanpur district at the time of a public health emergency in the district, and sought information on their sources.

Additional District Magistrate (Administration) Rae Bareli Ram Abhilash issued notices to the three journalists – Shivam Kumar Trivedi, Anuj Awasthi on reports of the diversion of oxygen supply in Hindi daily newspapers ‘Daily News Activist’ and “Kanwhizz Times”, respectively, asking them to provide the source of the information they have posted and shared on social media platforms.

Another journalist, Durgesh Singh Chauhan, who works for a local Hindi weekly, Rashtriya Kavach, received notice of an article about the supply of oxygen to Kanpur by Rae Bareli, which he shared on his Facebook account.

“The misleading comments you made in the article are intended to mislead the public and peddle false propaganda, which is a violation of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT) “, read the reviews.

The district administration further warned journalists who had received notices to return, explaining the article they had published and the sources of information before May 3, failing which legal proceedings would be taken against them. .

Awasthi, one of three journalists who received the legal notice from the Rae Bareli district administration, said he submitted his response to the administration the same day.

On April 19, late at night, a leading news agency tweeted that amid reports of an oxygen shortage and an increase in the number of COVID cases, 20 tons of oxygen had been delivered to Kanpur by Rae Bareli under strict police surveillance. same story, and even a daily Hindi website carried the same. When I saw this news from my district, I cross-checked it twice and j ‘wrote an article stating that 20 tons of medical oxygen had been diverted from Rae Bareli to Kanpur despite the medical emergency in the district. ”Awasthi said NewsClick, adding that the article was published on April 22 and that he received the notice after eight days, on April 30, when he visited the district information office on May 2, one day before the response deadline.

Awasthi, the head of the office of Kanwhizz Times, questioned the “intention” of the district administration because the notice was issued on behalf of the district magistrate and was signed by the additional district magistrate Ram Abhilash.

“The administration does not dare to serve legal opinions on journalists associated with news agencies or working with the general public, but they can threaten us and muzzle our voices by sending such opinions because we do not have a more solid experience. “he said, adding that he will not bow down before the administration because his article was factually correct.

Awasthi claimed that more than 100 patients have died due to lack of oxygen and beds at AIIMS, Rae Bareli and the district hospital. He said that ADM Ram Abhilash is the nodal officer of the quarantine center for COVID patients in Rae Bareli district for which the UP government has allocated Rs 15 lakh, but that “the administration does not” has no information about it ”.

Durgesh Singh Chauhan, another reporter who was notified of his post on Facebook and asked to reveal the sources of the information, said: “Everything that is happening in the district in terms of oxygen shortage is proving that the administration has failed to cope with the situation, and to hide its failure, they threaten us by sending us notices. We will continue to denounce the mismanagement of COVID, ”said Chauhan, adding that he is ready to go to jail but does not“ compromise with his pen and his journalism ”.

Some other journalists NewsClick asserted that instead of issuing legal opinions or threatening to sue, the administration should tell the public whether the 20 tons of oxygen was delivered to Kanpur by Rae Bareli or not.

NewsClick made several calls to another district magistrate (administration), Rae Bareli, Ram Abhilash, to ask for his answer, but all went unanswered.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently called on state officials to take action under the National Security Act (NSA) against those who spread “rumors” and ” propaganda ”on social networks, trying to“ spoil the atmosphere ”.

It should be noted that this decision comes after the Supreme Court on April 30 ordered that there be no crackdown on information if citizens communicate their grievances regarding COVID-19 treatment on social media.

“I point out this problem from the start. We want to make it very clear that if citizens communicate their grievances on social media and on the Internet, we cannot say that it is misinformation. We do not want repression. information. We will treat it. as contempt of court if such grievances are considered actionable, “the higher court said in its order.

A bench led by Judge Chandrachud and including Judges L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat heard the suo motu case registered by the Supreme Court on the current COVID-19 crisis in the country.

FIR AGAINST AMBULANCE DRIVER

Uttar Pradesh Police in Jaunpur District have booked a ambulance driver and filed a lawsuit against him for allegedly providing free oxygen cylinders to patients who could not find hospital beds at the district hospital on Saturday May 1.

The Chief Medical Superintendent of Jaunpur District Hospital filed a complaint accusing the driver, identified as Vicky Agrahari, of violating COVID-19 guidelines and risking the spread of infection amid cases increasing.

“I took a patient from a private hospital to a government hospital in Jaunpur after his condition started to deteriorate, but the doctors at the private hospital refused to admit him, citing the unavailability of bed and oxygen, ”Vicky told local reporters.

However, hospital staff and authorities claimed there was no shortage of beds or oxygen at the hospital. Vicky has been accused of falsely providing oxygen to patients outside the district hospital and violating COVID protocol.