Journalist booked by UP police for report on harassing woman after her conversion to Islam

Nidhi Suresh

The Sadar Bazar police in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur have registered an FIR against Newslaundry journalist Nidhi Suresh pursuant to a defamation complaint filed by journalist Deep Srivastava, after Nidhi had written a report containing allegations of a woman named Ayesha Alvi that she was harassed by the journalist Srivastava after her conversion to Islam.

According to Newslaundry, the UP police filed the FIR under Sections 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code.

“Twitter handle @nidhisuresh tweeted that in Tilhar religious conversion case, I demanded money…and also mentioned a writ in Delhi court. Although writ does not mention the channel’s or reporter’s name, this twitter handle is conspiring against me and blaming me for taking money,” read the complaint by Srivastava in the FIR.

The FIR was filed on July 4.

“UP police registered an FIR against me after Deep Srivastava filed a complaint of defamation. As per law, an FIR for criminal defamation can only be filed after a magistrate’s approval,” Nidhi Suresh tweeted.

She also alleged that the UP police bypassed this and registered the FIR.

“It should be noted that the Supreme Court of India has held that for criminal defamation, the complainant must file a complaint before a magistrate under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the said offences under Section 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code are non-cognizable,” responding to the news the media organisation Newslaundry said.

They went on to say: “At 11.07 am on July 5, Suresh received a phone call from the investigating officer (without any formal notice) asking her to record a statement in Shahjahanpur on the basis of the FIR. She received a second phone call at 6.05 pm the same day, asking that she “go to the station personally and give a written and oral statement”. When she said she was in Delhi, not Uttar Pradesh, the officer said, “You need to be here in person.””

The compliant and police action came after Nidhi Suresh had reported on Ayesha Alvi who had petitioned the Delhi High Court on being harassed by the media after she converted to Islam on 1 July.

In her petition, Ayesha had mentioned receiving a call from a mobile number and the caller “threatened that he will publish the news about my conversion and that I would get arrested and he demanded money from me and when we denied he threatened again. Thereafter he forcefully took 20 thousand rupees from us.”

When Newslaundry’s Nidhi had contacted the number, the caller identified himself as Deep Srivatsava, the reporter with News18. Srivatsava however, denied the allegations that he had extorted money from Ayesha.