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With numerous news organisations and guilds defending The Wire for fake and forged news, the National Union of Journalists (India) (NUJ)(I) on Thursday, November 3, issued a statement. In the statement issued with a 'sense of concern and agony', the NUJ(I) representing the press fraternity, acknowledged that it was as much its duty to strive against fraudulent and fake news reporting as it was to maintain the freedom of the press.
"If the various press organisations and the guilds has been prompt in condemning 'The Wire' reports, which were based on forged and fabricated documents, then their statements after the Delhi Police enquiry would have carried an imprint of fairness. It is pertinent to reiterate that in addition to the forgery and fabrication of documents, The Wire's reports are also a classic example of a lack of journalistic diligence and a willful abdication of responsibility," the NUJ(I) said.
The body representing the press fraternity further said, "However, the fact is that these press associations and guilds maintained a studied silence in the face of undeniable forgery that formed the core of The Wire reports. In contrast, their promptness in issuing a statement against the public enquiry, that seeks to trace the genesis of the forgery, makes these associations and guilds seem like partisan players."
Amit Malviya, the national convenor of the IT department of BJP filed a complaint, in which he accused The Wire of publishing a defamatory report on October 10, which claimed that Meta removes any post reported by the BJP IT cell head without any questions asked. The report, as per the complaint, also alleged that Malviya was on an 'XCheck list' giving him direct authority to take down posts on the Meta platforms.
On the basis of the complaint, an FIR was registered against The Wire, its founding members, and others, under Sections 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 120B (Criminal conspiracy), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 469 (Forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 500 (Defamation) of the IPC.
Searches were conducted at the residence of The Wire's Founder Siddharth Varadarajan and Founding Editor MK Venu. The police seized electronic devices such as mobiles and laptops from the residences of Varadarajan, Venu and others.
Thereafter, the publication filed a complaint against its ex-employee- a consultant, Devesh Kumar. In the complaint, the publication had alleged that Kumar has a "malintent" towards The Wire, its Editors, and staff and has "fabricated and supplied documents, e-mails and other material such as videos with a view to damage its reputation. Kumar has been summoned by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police for questioning.