Journalist Rana Ayyub Saturday said the FIR lodged by UP Police against her for alleged misutilisation of funds collected as donation for COVID-19 relief work was “malicious and baseless,” and that no FIR can stop her from “speaking truth to power.”
The Ghaziabad Police has registered an FIR against Rana Ayyub after online crowdfunding platform Ketto sent an email to those who donated money to campaigns started by her, saying they had been informed by the “Indian law enforcement agencies” that the funds were “not utilised for the purpose for which they were raised.”
The case was prompted by a complaint from Hindu IT Cell co-founder. For one of the fraud charges alone, Rana Ayyub faces up to seven years in prison.
“The Hindu IT Cell has lodged a malicious and baseless FIR against me in Uttar Pradesh, alleging that I have fraudulently taken donations on Ketto for Covid relief work. I have been defamed, trolled and abused online on the basis of this allegation. For the record, I wish to inform everyone that the entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for, and not a single paisa has been misused. The receipt of donations did not violate any law,” reads the statement of Rana who is also a Washington Post Global Opinions writer.
The journalist who was was named by Time Magazine as one of ten journalists facing the ‘most urgent’ threats to press freedom around the world, went on to say:
“Further, I have paid a heavy amount of tax on the donations, as directed by the CBDT, although I believe the donations ought not to have been taxed so that more money could be used for relief work. Such donations are exempt from taxes as per the policy and law of the land, and I am taking necessary steps in that regard with the CBDT. My accounts and the donations have both been scrutinised by the IT Department, and a fair investigation will bring out the truth for all.”
This new FIR follow a separate investigation launched against Rana Ayyub earlier this year for ‘outraging religious feelings’ after she and other Indian journalists tweeted a video of an elderly Muslim man being violently assaulted by Hindu mob. She was booked by UP Police over her tweet.