A journalist, based in Haryana’s Hisar, has been charged with “cyber-terrorism” and “promoting enmity between classes” over one of his social media posts.
A case was registered by the Haryana Police against Rajesh Kundu, who runs a news portal, on Friday under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology (IT) Act.
Opposition leaders, including Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kumari Selja, Deepender Singh Hooda of the Congress and INLD’s Abhay Singh Chautala, have condemned the action taken against Rajesh Kundu and demanded that the case be immediately withdrawn.
The journalist has been charged for promoting enmity between different classes, assertions prejudicial to national integration and cyber-terrorism for one of his social media posts, the police said.
According to the FIR, in the social media post, Rajesh Kundu had said Hisar will witness caste-based violence in a week and this will be the blueprint for an experiment in the state and then in the country.
The FIR was lodged on a complaint filed by a Hisar police official.
District police spokesperson Vikas stated in his complaint that inflammatory messages, which could incite the public, were allegedly sent to WhatsApp groups and over Facebook from Rajesh Kundu’s mobile phone number and this can have an impact on maintaining peace.
Therefore, a case should be registered against him, the complainant sought.
On the basis of the complaint, a case has been registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for “promoting enmity between classes”, “imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration” and that of the IT Act for “cyber-terrorism” on April 9.
Rajesh Kundu has been extensively covering the ongoing farmers’ agitation against three new agriculture laws of the Centre.
The FIR triggered a strong reaction from Haryana journalists as well as opposition parties, who criticised the police action.
The opposition leaders claimed that the case was lodged against Mr Kundu because he was raising the farmers’ voice through his social media handles.
“When the government could not break the ongoing farmer agitation, it lodged an FIR against journalist Rajesh Kundu, who has become a voice of the farmers. Neither this voice can be suppressed nor the farmer agitation,” Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet.
Journalists in Hisar held an emergency meeting at the Public Works Department Rest House on Saturday evening and criticised the police for lodging a case against Mr Kundu.
The Chandigarh Press Club also condemned the registration of the FIR against the Hisar-based journalist.
“Kundu was vocal in raising the farmers’ voice during the ongoing agitation against the three farm laws. Now, Hisar police have charged him for “cyber terrorism” and “promoting communal disharmony” over an alleged message that he posted on a WhatsApp group and Facebook,” Press Club secretary general Saurabh Duggal said in a statement.
The statement mentioned that Mr Kundu has maintained that he was “just performing his duty as a responsible citizen and as a journalist by sharing a post regarding his apprehension of violence on the basis of information received through sources”.
“With this post, I just wanted to alert the people so that such a situation can be averted,” the Press Club statement quoted Rajesh Kundu as saying.
“In these circumstances, the registration of a criminal case against the journalist is highly condemnable. Not only this, the police have conducted raids at several places in Hisar apparently to create fear among the media fraternity,” it said, adding that the Press Club will raise the matter with the chief minister.