A school in Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur made headlines last week after images emerged of students eating rotis with salt as part of their mid-day meal. Things took a turn for the worse when the journalist who broke the news was charged with conspiracy.
A First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the journalist, Pawan Jaiswal, on Saturday, accusing him and a representative of the village head of conspiring together to defame the UP government. The FIR stated that the representative conspired to get the video shot by the journalist even though he was aware that the kitchen staff was low on supplies.
"The management of the mid-day meals was the village head's responsibility, and so after being told, the representative's job was to inform the head and make vegetables available to the cook," the FIR read.
The video shot by the journalist was a particular embarrassment for the Yogi Adityanath government since the website of the Uttar Pradesh Mid Day Meal Authority mentions that the meals served to students are balanced, with lentils, vegetables, rice and roti. Fruits and milk also are allotted for certain days of the week.
This clip is from a @UPGovt school in east UP's #Mirzapur . These children are being served what should be a 'nutritious' mid day meal ,part of a flagship govt scheme .On the menu on Thursday was roti + salt !Parents say the meals alternate between roti + salt and rice + salt ! pic.twitter.com/IWBVLrch8A— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) August 23, 2019
According to NDTV, the FIR read that only rotis were cooked in school on the day the video was shot. It further stated that the head should have arranged for supply instead of calling a journalist to take a video of the situation.
The video created furore on social media. "I ordered an inquiry and the incident was found to be true. Prima facie, it is the fault of the teacher incharge of the school and the supervisor at the gram panchayat. Both have been suspended," Anurag Patel, a government officer in Mirzapur, was quoted as saying by NDTV.
A student's parent reportedly told the journalist that this has been going on for almost a year. Somedays it is roti and salt and other days it is rice and salt. "When milk comes here on rare occasions, most of it is never distributed. Bananas are never distributed," the woeful parent said.