Scribe Detained Over Fake News, Portal Owner Says Media Gagged

A reporter from the local news portal, who posted a video of a father accusing two men of sexually assaulting his underage daughter and cousin, has been arrested by Pithoragarh police on allegations of promoting enmity between groups and extortion of money by fabricating false news.

Claiming that the arrested man, identified as Kishore Ram (30), had no identification to prove he was a journalist, Pithoragarh SP Lokeshwer Singh said it was not the first time Kishore had done false allegations and extorted money from people. Kishore claims to work for a local news portal, Janjwar.com.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the owner and editor of the news portal Ajay Prakash said the videos they posted did not promote enmity and his employee was just doing his job. Calling it police brutality, he said the media was oppressed.

According to a statement released by Pithoragarh Police, Kishore was sentenced under Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and commit acts detrimental to the maintenance of harmony) of the IPC and was later arrested after thoroughly investigating the matter.

“The man is not a journalist and has no ID to prove otherwise. He usually raises issues related to caste and we found at least eight instances where he raised issues by posting videos to extort money from people. Recently, he interviewed a Dalit man who alleged two people sexually assaulted his daughter and cousin and released the video, revealing his identity. In the video, he asked for the man’s caste and made it an issue,” the SP said.

“When we learned of this, we spoke to the girls and they denied such an incident. We then spoke to the father and he confessed that Kishore convinced him to make the allegations in return for Rs 3 lakh. We then found at least eight similar cases in which Kishore had spread fake news,” he added.

In the video, the man accuses two men of luring his 15-year-old daughter and her 17-year-old cousin into their car under the guise of taking them for a ride, but then sexually assaulted them. He alleged that the two men dumped the girls on the Pithoragarh highway. Senior police officials said they had received no complaints in this regard and no FIRs had been registered.