Punjab Kesari says new UT will have only 12 districts, bureau head booked for ‘misleading report’

Bivek Mathur | Aug 12, 2019 | 5 min read

Bivek Mathur

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday booked Bureau Head of Jammu and Kashmir edition of Punjab Kesari for a “misleading report” carried by the newspaper in its August 8 edition.

District of Samba witnessed a public outrage where people gheroed the Deputy Commissioner of Samba and even pelted stones on government functionaries over a news report that claimed the merger of Samba district with Jammu district. To bring the situation under control, the Samba police filed an FIR against the author of the report.

SHO Samba, Shiv Dev Singh said that an FIR has been registered under Section 505 sub section 1(B) of IPC (Indian Penal Code) against Balram Saini, the bureau head of J&K edition of Punjab Kesari, for authoring a misleading report that eight districts of Jammu and Kashmir will be merged with other 12 districts and the newly formed Union Territory will have only 12 districts instead of 20.

According to sub section 1(B) of section 505 of IPC, a media person (editor/reporter/publisher) is booked for circulating any statement, rumour or report, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility.

Quoting the J&K Reorganization Bill, the newspaper report claimed that Samba district in Jammu province will be clubbed with Jammu district, Reasi with Udhampur, Kishtwar and Reasi with Doda, Ganderbal with Srinagar, Bandipora with Baramulla, Shopian with Pulwama and Kulgam with Anantnag.

The Punjab Keasari scribe also analyzed in his report that the decision to club the eight districts can cost Government of India dearly and that it may lead to widespread public resentment in the State.

It is important to mention here that after hue and cry in 2007, Ghulam Nabi Azad, then Chief Minister in the Congress-PDP coalition government in the State carved out eight new districts including Samba, Reasi, Ramban and Kishtwar in Jammu province and Kulgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Shopian in Kashmir province.

Divisional Commissioner refutes the report
Reacting to the newspaper report, the Divisional Commissioner of Jammu, Sanjeev Verma, issued a corrigendum on Friday.

Verma expressed grave anguish over “spread of fake news in some newspapers”, aimed at “disrupting peace and harmony” in Jammu and Kashmir.

He described the news appearing in a section of media over the presumed reorganization of various districts of Union Territory as “false and mischievous”, saying that such news is “fictitious, misleading, distortion and misinterpretation of facts” over the reduction of some districts in the Union Territory. He appealed the people not to pay any heed to such baseless stories.

The Divisional Commissioner said that the newspapers, which carried this “misleading fake news” without confirmation from the designated authorities, have expressed regrets and will clarify the same in the next edition.

“They (section of media) have also assured the administration that they will remain more responsible and conscious while reporting the events across the Union Territory,” the Divsional Commissioner told media persons.
He added that police action has been initiated against the persons spreading the fake news.

All 20 districts are going to remain: Govt
Meanwhile, a government spokesman has issued clarification in the August 10 edition of the Punjab Kesari newspaper to dispel the rumours about clubbing of eight districts. 

It reads, “Amidst commotion over a news report published in Punjab Kesari newspaper with title-‘Naye Jammu Kashmir Main Honge 12 Jile, 8 Jile Samapt’ (There will be 12 districts in new J&K, 8 districts will be clubbed)’, we clarify that no district will be clubbed. All the 20 districts of J&K will remain as such.”

He said that as per the J&K Reorganization Bill passed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the page 31-37 claimed that excluding the four Legislative Assembly seats of Ladakh, rest of 83 Legislative Assembly seats will be distributed in the old 12 districts of Jammu and Kashmir as per the Delimitation of 1995.  

Giving reference of the page 3, clause (7), the government spokesman also clarified that the Central government has assured that in the Centrally administered J&K, the administrative units set by the previous governments, including Districts and Tehsils will not be changed.

I quoted the bill, says Saini
Balram Saini, the Punjab Kesari Bureau Head of J&K edition said that he was booked because the report he carried in the newspaper created law and order problem in Samba district where people gheroed the DC Samba and even pelted stones on government functionaries.

Asked about the veracity of his report, he said, “I quoted page 31-37 of J&K Reorganization Bill passed in both Houses of the Parliament. But I believe my inference was not absolutely correct.”

On whether registration of FIR was the only solution, he said, “Actually government would not have taken such a harsh step if there was not a law and order problem in Samba district. I think I should also cooperate with the government at this point of time.”   

Secretary General of Press Club of Jammu, Zorawar Singh Jamwal said that in a sensitive and strife-torn UT like J&K, journalists also need to be very careful while writing stories on the sensitive subject. 

“Here (J&K), we have always cooperated with the government and the nation while dealing with the sensitive issues. We are duty bound in J&K to confirm multiple times before reaching at a conclusion,” added Jamwal.

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