Three local journalists were issued notices by the district administration of Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli on April 30, asking for information on the sources of news reports published in print media and posted on social media, .
The reports alleged that in the middle of a medical emergency in Rae Bareli district, 20 metric tonnes of medical oxygen were diverted to Kanpur. The district administration has called the reports “baseless and false:”
Journalists Shivam Kumar Trivedi and Anuj Awasthi working for Hindi newspapers Daily News Activist and Kanwhizz Times, respectively, were asked to provide information about reports related to the supply of oxygen. The third journalist, Durgesh Singh Chauhan working for Hindi weekly Rashtriya Kavach, was also sent a notice for posting the article about oxygen diversion on Facebook.
The notices asked the journalists to reveal the sources of the reports and explain the comments made by the three on social media while posting the reports. These comments included questions on why the oxygen was diverted, Express reported.
The administration claimed that the comments of the journalists and claims made in the news reports shared on social media were found to be “prima facie false”. Express noted that the notices also said that the comments made were meant to “peddle false propaganda” and “mislead the public”, amounting to a violation of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had asked officials in the state to take action under the National Security Act against those spreading “rumours” and "propaganda” on social media, trying to “spoil the atmosphere”.