Govt levels sedition charge against senior journalist Vinod Dua

Shimla/New Delhi: Two days after the Delhi High Court stayed investigation into a case against journalist Vinod Dua for his show on YouTube, the police in Shimla have summoned him for questioning over a sedition charge levelled by a local BJP leader.

Dua said he has filed a petition in the Supreme Court this evening against the FIR in Himachal Pradesh.

YouTube video

YouTube show on riots in Delhi

Like the complaint lodged in the national capital, the FIR registered against the senior journalist in Shimla is over his YouTube show on communal riots in Delhi earlier this year.

According to the complaint, he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using “deaths and terror attacks” to get votes.

Dua has been asked to join the investigation at Kumarsain police station in Shimla district on Saturday, Rampur deputy superintendent of police Abhimanyu Verma said.

“We came to know about this FIR last night. It was filed on June 6, while I was contacted last night by e-mail and today morning the Himachal Pradesh police landed at my place at 6:58 AM,” Dua told PTI.

“I don’t know whether they sought the permission of the Delhi Police or not as per law. They came to serve the notice. The distance between Kumarsain and Delhi is almost 14 to 16 hours, so they must have been in Delhi before that. It is a coordinated effort,” he said.

Petition filed in SC

“We have filed a petition in the Supreme Court,” he added.

Dua has been charged under sections 124A (sedition), 268 (public nuisance), 501 (printing matter known to be defamatory) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) on the basis of a complaint last month by BJP’s Mahasu unit president Ajay Shyam.

On Thursday, Dua was sent a notice asking him to appear before police in Shimla. Himachal Pradesh policemen arrived at his Delhi home on Friday morning to serve the notice.

In his reply to the notice, Dua said he cannot visit Kumarsain police station because of his health, age and the COVID-19 protocol for travel and quarantine.

Investigation through e-mail

However, he has agreed to join the investigation through e-mail or any other online mechanism, Superintendent of Police Khushal Sharma said.

Dua said, “My concern is that the Supreme Court petition has been filed and if the hearing is tonight it’s fine, tomorrow morning is also fine. But if is does not happen by then, and I am not there (Kumarsain) by 10 AM tomorrow, can they take coercive action since their team is already here.”

BJP leader Ajay Shyam had complained that Dua made bizarre allegations on his 15-minute YouTube show on March 30.

According to his two-page complaint, Dua said Prime Minister Modi used deaths and terror attacks to garner votes.

The BJP leader said this was an act of instigating violence against the government and the prime minister by spreading false and malicious news.

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court had stayed till June 23 an investigation into a similar case filed by a BJP spokesperson, Naveen Kumar.

Political vendetta

The court said there was an unexplained delay of nearly three months in filing the complaint.

Dua’s petition to the court had claimed that the FIR lodged in Delhi was proof of “political vendetta” and an attempt to stifle free speech.