UP assembly summons India Today journalists, Opposition leader invokes sedition

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A week after an probe panel indicted nine former and current India Today journalists, the Uttar Pradesh assembly on Tuesday summoned them to represent their case.

The report, which was tabled in the assembly last week, got passed by a majority voice as the BJP MLAs staged a walkout.

According to Indian Express, Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey initiated the debate on the committee report.

The paper quoted the leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya suggesting that the staff members of the channels be given a chance to present their case, and after that strong action should be taken.

Also Read | 9 current and former India Today TV journalists indicted in UP Assembly on Muzaffarnagar riots sting operation

Maurya said that the act came under sedition.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav too agreed. He said, “I also feel that as per the suggestion of the House, it should move in the same direction.”

Probe committee chairman Satish Nigam said: “Such people should be punished, else they will not mend their ways. The situation was grim as there could have been attack on Khan… The sting operation was fake and a medium to increase TRP.”

The nine journalists against whom the action has been recommended under several sections of the IPC include Supriya Prasad (Managing Editor-Aaj Tak), Rahul Kanwal (Managing Editor-Headlines Today), Deepak Sharma, Arun Singh, Harish Sharma (all members of the then Special Investigations Team) Manish Kumar (Output Head, Aaj Tak), journalists/anchors Punya Prasoon Bajpayee, Gaurav Sawant and Padmaja Joshi.

The six-member committee has recommended the assembly to consider charging them under various sections including 153 (A), 295 (A), 200, 463,  464 & 465, 469 , 471‎ of IPC.

The committee had taken the testimony of all the accused and the India Today Group CEO, Ashish Bagga before compiling the final report.

 Sharma and Joshi have since then left India Today group, while the Headlines Today has now been renamed India Today TV.
The UP assembly had constituted a committee in the aftermath of India Today group’s sting operation called Operation Danga, which allegedly blamed the senior minister in UP government, Azam Khan, for fuelling the communal tension during the riots.

Khan had denied the allegations as broadcast in the sting operation.

Among other things, the report also questions the lack of  editorial ethics followed in the period leading up to the broadcast of the sting operation.

It is critical of the way the ITG channels went ahead with Khan’s name on air without giving him the right to respond to allegations.

India Today had earlier refused to comment saying it didn’t comment on assembly proceedings.

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