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UP salt-roti row: We’ll probe, says minister on FIR against journalist

The Uttar Pradesh government’s spokesman said that it is providing mid-day meals in over 1.5 lakh primary and middle schools across the state. Over 1 crore children are supposed to benefit from the scheme.

SNS | New Delhi |

Satish Dwivedi, Uttar Pradesh’s Basic Education Minister condemned the filing of FIR against a journalist who reported the story children of primary government school in Uttar Pradesh having salt and roti in their mid-day meal. A few days earlier, a video surfaced in this regard. He assured that a probe would be initiated regarding the FIR.

The case was filed against Sioor Panchayat’s head man Rajkumar Pal and journalist Pawan Jaiswal under different sections of the Indian Penal Code including Section 420 by the Division Education officer following an order by the District Magistrate.

Dwivedi told reporters on Monday: “We’ll initiate a probe after having complete information from our department and Mirzapur’s police officers.

The minister said that people should not be punished for revealing corruption or any such fact. He further added that I would only be able to tell you anything after asking for a report from the police officer about the incident.

Dwivedi also said,”We took a departmental action in the incident. But, first, we’ll see the grounds of police action. Whether the action was taken in the same matter or any other matter, I would only be able to tell you after asking from them.”

The shocking incident came to light last week, where the students of a government primary school in Sioor, Mirzapur district were being served salt and roti (flatbread) under the midday meal scheme.  A video which became viral on the social media on August 22 showed about 100 children of classes 1 to 8 sitting on the floor of the school corridor, eating rotis with just some salt in their plates.

Consequently, the basic education officer was transferred, and Headmaster of the school and other teachers were suspended. But the district administration refuted the charges and instead of rectifying their mistake, the Block Education Officer of the area has accused the journalist, and a representative of the local village head of conspiracy to defame the Uttar Pradesh government and said that the salt-rotis was served with the motive to record this video only.

While journalist said, “I exposed the matter that children are being served ‘namak-roti’. Now, I have been made an accused by filing an FIR”.

Jaiswal further said that when he reached to report the matter then the Panchayat Head’s man told him that the children are being served salt and bread since three-four days. After that, he informed the concerned officer.

“I was shocked to see children eating ‘namak-roti’. When I informed the DM, he said the matter is being probed, don’t report it to media. The probe proved the allegation right and he had suspended two people,” said the journalist.

The three-page first information report, mentions that only rotis were cooked in the school on the day when the video was shot. It further adds that it was village head representative’s responsibility to arrange for vegetables instead of calling a reporter to the school premises. The FIR also mentions that the video was shot by a local journalist which was widely shared on social media and defamed the state government.

The Uttar Pradesh government’s spokesman said that it is providing mid-day meals in over 1.5 lakh primary and middle schools across the state. Over 1 crore children are supposed to benefit from the scheme.