Sunday, December 3, 2023

District Magistrate threatens journalist to slap NSA for reporting Muslims’ eviction near UP’s Gorakhnath temple

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Masihuzzama Ansari

Masihuzzama Ansari, a Delhi based journalist who covered forced evictions of Muslim families near Gorakhanath Temple in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, was threatened by District Magistrate with arrest under the draconian National Security Act (NSA).

Ansari who is working as a sub editor in India Tomorrow told Maktoob that the Gorakhpur DM K Vijayendra Pandian IAS on Wednesday threatened him of imprisonment under the NSA after he called up Pandian to take the ‘government version’ of the story.

Ansari also alleged that Pandian enquired the scribe’s religion in an insulting tone and threatened to slap the NSA on him for “creating enmity between two Hindus and Muslims.”

Ansari went on to say: “He (DM) said that the families are handing over their land voluntarily,
keeping in mind the safety of the temple. So I told him that the families are saying they were forced to sign the consent letter under pressure. The DM accused me of trying to make the issue a Hindu Muslim matter. He continued: ‘You are making the atmosphere hostile. We will file a case and impose NSA and you will face serious actions.'”

In an audio clip of the purported telephone conversation accessed by Maktoob, Pandian says, “You also have a Muslim name…Rise above your religion Ansari”.

“All will be sent to jail…Whoever publishes the report, will be jailed…You are breaching their privacy…They have given their consent…We will file an FIR and name those who publish the report on the internet…” Pandian can be heard saying in the audio clip recorded and shared by Ansari.

The India Tomorrow journalist filed a complaint on Wednesday with the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) demanding action against District Magistrate K. Vijayendra Pandian, IAS.

“I have recordings of both the DM and the families which I can produce as evidence. A person who is holding an important administrative post with constitutional authority threatens a journalist and makes religious comments…It is not according to the idea of justice,” read Ansari’s compliant.

Eviction under pressure

Last week, eleven Muslim families are being asked to hand over their homes situated close to the Gorakhnath temple for the purpose of ‘security’, to the UP state government.

According to The Cognate, the district administration of Gorakhpur has pressurized Muslim families to sign the memorandum termed as ‘consent letter’ to vacate the houses.

The ”consent letter” in Hindi says, “To abide the order of district administration to deploy police force keeping in view the security at The Gorakhnath Temple, we are giving our land and signing this document with our will. We don’t have any objections. To express our consent, we are signing this document below.”

The families are now being forced to vacate the houses by the local administration.

The letter includes the names and signatures of the 11 property holders dated 28th May.

Javed Akhter, a signatory of the consent letter told The Cognate that they have signed the letter under the pressure of the administration.

“We were forced to sign the circular,” he adds.

DM Pandian who denied the allegations of forced evictions told The Quint that he has the recording of the people who have signed and that will be shared on social media to counter the claims.

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