The Delhi Police on Saturday filed a first information report against The Wire for cheating, forgery defamation and criminal conspiracy after it published articles claiming Instagram took down posts that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Malviya had flagged without review.
The Wire editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu as well as deputy editor Jahnavi Sen have been named in the FIR, ANI reported.
The journalists have been booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery with the purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for harming reputation), 471 (using forged document), 500 (defamation), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention).
BJP social media cell chief and controversial Hindutva figure Malviya in a complaint also sought action against the Foundation for Independent Journalism, a non-profit organisation that publishes The Wire.
“It is apparent the accused along with other unknown persons have levelled unsubstantiated and baseless allegations against me and the BJP. As a part of the conspiracy, the accused also fabricated and forged internal emails of a private limited company with a dishonest and fraudulent intention to hoodwink their readers and the public at large,” read his compliant.
“I state that the above forged reports of the accused person[s] have caused serious harm to my professional career and reputation,” he added.
He went on to say: “Further at the same time the false, fabricated and malicious reports have also tarnished the image of the BJP in the eyes of the public at large. The BJP, currently having a majority in Parliament and many states of the country, has suffered a huge reputational loss.”
The FIR comes after Meta, the parent company of Instagram, and The Wire engaged in a public feud over the articles and subsequent reporting from The Wire in support of its claims.
Later, The Wire had retracted the articles, issued a public apology and said that it had been deceived by a member of its investigative team.
Malviya had on Friday said The Wire’s apology (in connection with the stories) didn’t mention his name despite “tarnishing” his image.