Modi Government bent upon throttling farmers' voice by banning Internet: Congress

By PTI
NEW DELHI: The Congress Monday condemned the Uttar Pradesh government for booking its leaders and some journalists over their tweets on the death of two teenage girls in Unnao earlier this month, and accused the ruling BJP of “strangulating” democracy.

Congress chief spokesperson and general secretary Randeep Surjewala alleged the UP government targets the media and political leaders rather than going after the perpetrators of various crimes, as he demanded an immediate withdrawal of the “politically motivated” FIRs.

He said the registration of FIRs against Congress leader Udit Raj, web portal ‘Mojo story’ and other individuals “is yet another instance of brazen harassment and bullying by the power-drunk BJP government to silence the contrarian or dissenting voices”.

“The FIR filed against the former MP and Congress Spokesperson Shri Udit Raj, a media portal and some individuals is a clear cut instance of strangulating democracy by the BJP and its leaders,” he said in a statement.

The incident pertains to three girls — aged 14, 15 and 16 — who had left their homes in Babuhara village in Asoha, around 36 km south of Lucknow, to collect fodder on last Wednesday evening.

As they did not return for some time, their family members went out to search, and found them in a field.

“The Congress party demands the immediate withdrawal of all politically motivated FIRs, for such arm twisting will not be able to silence the voice of our leaders, who are committed to the cause of the weak, deprived and marginalised,” Surjewala said.

The Congress leader alleged that the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh has “completely collapsed” as the state government has “failed” in its duty to safeguard the people, particularly the women and poorer sections of the society.

“Instead of going after the perpetrators and the culprits of various crimes, the UP government has a unique modus operandi to target the media and political leaders by shamelessly resorting to registration of false FIRs and using other coercive measures to threaten and intimidate the people bringing the truth to light,” he said.

An FIR has been lodged against eight Twitter handles for allegedly propagating fake news in connection with the Unnao incident, the police had earlier said.

The Twitter handles include those of news portal ‘Mojo Story’, led by senior journalist Barkha Dutt, who has termed the FIR a case of brazen “harassment and bullying”.

The case was registered at the Sadar Kotwali police station area in Unnao on Sunday against seven more Twitter accounts: Janjagran Live, Aazad Samaj Party spokesperson Suraj Kumar Boudh, Nilim Dutta, Vijay Ambedkar, Abhay Kumar Azad, Rahul Diwakar, Nawab Satpal Tanwar.

On Saturday, Congress leader Udit Raj was also booked for allegedly propagating fake news through a tweet in which had claimed that the teenagers were raped and their bodies cremated against the will of their family.

The FIR has been lodged for propagating “fake and misleading news” regarding the incident, Assistant Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar Pandey said on Monday.

After the three girls were found, the villagers informed the police and rushed the girls to a local hospital where two of them were declared brought dead.

The third girl, the eldest among them, was rushed to the Unnao hospital and later referred to Kanpur.

The last rites of the deceased girls were performed Friday morning amid tight security arrangements.

The Unnao police has held two people in this connection, accusing them of murder over a one-sided love affair.